Youth Sexting: Prevalence Rates, Driving Motivations, and the Deterrent Effect of Legal Consequences

Sexuality Research and Social Policy Vol. 11 Iss. 3 (2014) p. 245 - 255

11 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2020 Last revised: 25 Jun 2020

See all articles by Drexel’s Kline School of Law Faculty Submitter

Drexel’s Kline School of Law Faculty Submitter

Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law

Heidi Strohmaier

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Megan Murphy

affiliation not provided to SSRN

David DeMatteo

Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law

Date Written: 2014

Abstract

This study investigated the prevalence of and motivations behind the exchange of sexually explicit text messages (“sexting”)—including those with and without photographic images—among youth. Secondary aims included gauging youth awareness of potential legal and other negative consequences of sexting, and assessing the possible deterrent effect of anti-sexting legislation. Undergraduate students (N = 175) recruited from a large Northeastern university completed an anonymous online survey concerning their engagement in sexting as minors. Consistent with hypotheses, more than half of respondents reported sexting as minors, although only 28 % sent photographic sexts. Respondents demonstrated a general lack of awareness regarding legal consequences of underage sexting, with knowledge of legal consequences having a modest deterrent effect. Respondents who, as minors, were aware of legal consequences of youth sexting were significantly less likely than their peers to engage in underage sexting. Survey respondents were divided on the issue of whether minors should be prosecuted for sexting, and generally advocated for rehabilitative over punitive sanctions. Policy implications and future directions are discussed.

Keywords: Sexting, Youth, Legislation, Sentencing, Juvenile sex offenders

Suggested Citation

Faculty Submitter, Drexel’s Kline School of Law and Strohmaier, Heidi and Murphy, Megan and DeMatteo, David, Youth Sexting: Prevalence Rates, Driving Motivations, and the Deterrent Effect of Legal Consequences (2014). Sexuality Research and Social Policy Vol. 11 Iss. 3 (2014) p. 245 - 255 , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3605461

Drexel’s Kline School of Law Faculty Submitter (Contact Author)

Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law ( email )

3320 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Heidi Strohmaier

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Megan Murphy

affiliation not provided to SSRN

David DeMatteo

Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law ( email )

3320 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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