Sexting among teenagers is seen as a serious concern from parents and law enforcement officials, but a new study from Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine outlined just how big the problem has grown. A whopping 28 percent of teenagers have texted fully nude pictures of themselves, Tech Crunch reported.
The study looked at close to 1,000 high school students from public schools across southeast Texas, and it defined sexting only as sending naked photographs, not semi-nude photos or explicit messages. While it found 28 percent of the students admitted to sending these nude photos, a full 57 percent said they had been asked to share naked pictures and were bothered by the request, Mashable reported.
The problem is a lot bigger than “kids being kids,” the study found.
“Under most existing laws, if our findings were extrapolated nationally, several million teens could be prosecuted for child pornography,” the study read.
The study found that boys and girls sexted at an equal rate, but female participants received more requests for nude photos. It’s also most popular among white students, who sent nude pictures at the highest rate of those surveyed—35 percent. African-American students were second at 27 percent, followed by Hispanics at 21 percent and Asians at 19 percent. The suburbs weren’t safe either, Tech Crunch pointed out. Sexting rates were virtually the same across all socio-economic levels.
If your teenager’s phone has naked pictures in the sent folder, there’s a pretty good chance they’re doing a lot more than just that. The study found that 77 percent of girls and 82 percent of boys who are sexting are no longer virgins. It had especially bad news for the girls sending naked pictures.
“(T)een girls who engaged in sexting behaviors also had a higher prevalence of risky sex behaviors, including multiple partners and using drugs or alcohol before sex,” the study found. “Thus, among girls, the use of sexting behaviors appears to coincide with much higher engagement in risky sex behaviors.”