For youth sexting: Public supports education, not criminal charges

Mar 20, 2012

Sexting – sending sexually explicit, nude, or semi-nude photos by cell phone – has become a national concern, especially when it involves children and teens. A new poll shows that the vast majority of adults do not support legal consequences for teens who sext.

Seventeen states have already enacted laws to address youth and another 13 states have pending legislation in 2012 that focuses on sexting.

The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health recently asked across the United States for their opinions about youth sexting and sexting legislation.

The poll found that the vast majority, 81 percent, of adults think an educational program or counseling is an appropriate consequence for teens who sext. Most adults also favor similar non-criminal programs: 76 percent of adults think schools should give all students and parents information on sexting, and 75 percent of adults support requiring community service for sexting teens.

In contrast, most adults do not favor legal consequences for minors who sext other minors. About one-half, 44 percent, support fines less than $500 for youth sexting, while 20 percent or fewer think that sexting should be treated as a sex crime, or that teens who sext should be prosecuted under sexual abuse laws.

"As youth sexting has become more of a national concern, many states have acted to address the issue. However, before this poll, very little was known about what the public thinks about sexting legislation," says Matthew M. Davis M.D., M.A.P.P., Director of the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health, Associate Professor in the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the U-M Medical School, and Associate Professor of Public Policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

"This poll indicates that, while many adults are concerned about sexting among children and teenagers, they strongly favor educational programs, counseling, and community service rather than penalties through the legal system," says Davis.

The also asked adults who they think should play a role in addressing the problem of youth sexting. Almost all adults, 93 percent, believe parents should have a major role. Many adults also believe that teens themselves, 71 percent, and schools,52 percent, should have a major role in addressing sexting.

"Across the country, the public supports requiring schools to distribute information about sexting to students and parents. Since adults strongly feel that parents should play a major role in addressing sexting, this is a great opportunity for parents and schools to work together on this issue," says Davis. "Child advocacy organizations could assist in this effort by developing clear educational information that is appropriate for students of different ages."

Explore further: Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

More information: Full report: www.mottnpch.org/reports-surveys/youth-sexting-public-supports-education-not-criminal-charges

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Pressure forces teens to 'sext': Australian study

Sep 30, 2011

Teenagers are under pressure to send nude photos of themselves and other sexual images from their mobile phones as "sexting" becomes more widespread, new Australian research shows.

States weigh relaxing penalties for teen sexting

Jun 13, 2011

(AP) -- A congressman who sends an X-rated photo of himself jeopardizes his reputation and his job. But in many states, teens caught doing the same thing can risk felony charges, jail time and being branded sexual offenders.

Australian youngsters warned over 'sexting'

Apr 28, 2010

Australia's government urged young people not to join the "sexting" craze on Wednesday, warning that sending provocative images by mobile phone could have "very bad long-term consequences".

Poll finds sexting common among young people

Dec 03, 2009

(AP) -- Think your kid is not "sexting"? Think again. Sexting - sharing sexually explicit photos, videos and chat by cell phone or online - is fairly commonplace among young people, despite sometimes grim ...

Recommended for you

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Apr 18, 2014

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

Apr 17, 2014

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

Apr 17, 2014

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Creative activities outside work can improve job performance

Apr 16, 2014

Employees who pursue creative activities outside of work may find that these activities boost their performance on the job, according to a new study by San Francisco State University organizational psychologist Kevin Eschleman ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet Mar 20, 2012
The primary problem with sexting is more probably focus followed by proper framing of the subject.

Generally children don't have that problem when playing doctor.

More news stories

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.