Sexting is a term created from the combination of the words sex and texting. It refers to the practice of electronically sending sexually explicit images or messages from one person to another.
Basically, in layman's terms, if you send and/or receive a nude or semi-nude picture, you are sexting. There are serious consequences that come with this practice.
Why Is It An Issue?
For California, there is currently legislation in the works to punish those who sext. The new legislation would provide a definition for sexting to only include the sending and receiving of nude/semi-nude photos, and would work with specific schools to target sexting locally.
In the specific schools, if a student was caught sending/receiving sexually explicit messages to/from another student or school personnel, the student who sent the messages could be suspended or expelled from the school.
In other states, the punishment is far greater. In one case of sexting, a young man (18) was sent to jail for sending/receiving sexts from his 14 year old girlfriend. He was convicted of child pornography and will be on the sex offender list for the next 43 years.
So sexting, while it may seem harmless, comes with its repercussions that can completely destroy someone's life.
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How Often Does It Happen?
There is no solid number stating how often and between whom sexting occurs. This is because sexting polls are taken by those who use the Internet, and are therefore more inclined to answer an online poll. So this doesn't extend to include those who do not participate in online polls, and the numbers could be significantly larger than they appear.
For now though, the Pew Research Center has reported that approximately one-third of all students have sexted regularly or have received/sent a sext at least once. Pew Research Center also has reported that those who engage in sexting are more likely to be in romantic relationships.
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Opinions On Sexting
The opinions on sexting are incredibly varied, depending on who you are. The website iPowerProject conducted a survey on sexting, with varied responses. Here are a few examples:
- "Sexting is juvenile and inane. It just shows the lack of self respect the girl must have for herself." (female)
- "I honestly see nothing so majorly negative about this. I'm one of those people that believe, 'do what ever you want as long you are ready to suffer any consequence of any physical or mental effect towards you.' What's the worst possible scenario here? Others may see, maybe even your parents? If people want to show themselves off, let them, as long as it's not any underage kind of situation then their is no real issue here. This is all my opinion of course." (male)
- "OMFG. Sexting is amazing. I love technology." (male)
However, sexting is also emotionally costly. Some kids feel violated when asked to send a sext, or are on the receiving end of one. So, think before you sext. The picture (or message, for that matter) could get out and be spread around your classmates, and even your family, so be cautious.
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Briana Garcia Rossman,
high school writer
Reviewed By: Nancy Brown, Ph.D.
Last Reviewed: October 2013