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In a survey of teens, ages 11 to 18, conducted by Beatbullying, the leading charity for bully prevention in the United Kingdom, about 38 percent received “an offensive or distressing sexual image via text or email.” Of those surveyed, 70 percent knew the sender, with almost one quarter of the messages swapped between girlfriends and boyfriends.
According to Beatbullying, “Sexting is an extension of cyberbullying when someone (or a group of people) deliberately attempts to hurt, upset, threaten or humiliate someone else. This includes when a recipient is made to feel uncomfortable as a direct result of the content, or asked to do something which makes the recipient feel distressed.”
The current trend of sexting among teens can sometimes have deadly consequences.
For example, an 18-year-old Cincinnati, Ohio, high school student sent nude pictures of herself to her boyfriend—which were then distributed to hundreds of her peers. After enduring months of public ridicule and teasing, she hanged herself.
In states such as Alabama, sending nude photos of a minor is a Class-A felony, with a possible 10-year prison sentence.
“We are seeking to prevent our young people from making a disastrous choice that could haunt them well into adulthood,” the district attorney for Alabama’s DeKalb County said (The Times-Journal).
“Kids seem to be so focused on the present that they do not think about the serious nature of their actions,” DeKalb Sheriff Jimmy Harris said (ibid.).
In most countries, sending naked photos of children under age 18 is illegal.