Sexting Not as Prevalent Among Teens as Previously Thought, Study Finds

Sending racy photos via text messages is not as common as once thought with the nation’s teens, according to a recent study.

Sending suggestive text messages, or sexting, is only done by 1 percent of the country’s teens, according to the study published in the journal Pediatrics.

"The data suggest that appearing in, creating, or receiving sexual images is far from being a normative behavior for youth," wrote the authors from the University of New Hampshire's Crimes Against Children Research Center.

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One in 10 children who took sexually explicit pictures of themselves sent them to other people, according to the study. Just 3 percent of teens who received such messages forwarded them to others.

Sexting may be rare, according to the results of the study, but because it targets children, it often is discussed and covered in the media.

More than 3,000 incidents of sexting were recorded with law enforcement agencies across the country in 2008 and 2009, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Some incidents involved trusted members of the community.

Police are investigating a teacher in Amarillo, Texas, on allegations of sexting a high school student in the area, according to the Amarillo Globe-News.

But many suggestive texts are peer-to-peer and because they are underage, stiff penalties can come with sharing a suggestive photograph.

But with the low incidents reported in the study, the authors seem encouraged that fewer teens than previously thought are committing crimes by sexting.

"Only a low percentage of young people are appearing in or creating sexting images that could be considered illegal child pornography. Moreover, few of these images were being forwarded or posted, situations that could put youth at risk for having their images circulated online," the study’s authors wrote.

The study was based on interviews with roughly 1,500 children age 10 to 17.

It is unclear how the new study will influence national discussions with children on sexting.

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