Aggravating Circumstances in Most Youth Sexting Police Cases

Also, only 1 percent of youth creates or features in sexually explicit nude pictures or videos

MONDAY, Dec. 5 (HealthDay News) -- The majority of police-investigated youth sexting cases include aggravating circumstances, but few youth are arrested; and only a small percentage of youth appear in, create, or receive sexually explicit images, according to two studies published online Dec. 5 in Pediatrics.

Janis Wolak, J.D., from the University of New Hampshire in Durham, and colleagues investigated the characteristics of police-investigated youth sexting cases, and assessed outcomes in response to this behavior. Of the 3,477 cases of youth-produced sexual images handled by the police during 2008 and 2009, two-thirds involved an aggravating circumstance beyond the creation and/or dissemination of a sexual image. Adults and minors were involved in 36 and 31 percent of cases, respectively. In 62 percent of cases involving an adult, 36 percent of aggravated youth-only cases, and 18 percent of experimental cases, an arrest occurred. Only a few unusual cases came under a sex offender registration.

Kimberly J. Mitchell, Ph.D., from the University of New Hampshire in Durham, and colleagues obtained national estimates of U.S. youth involved in sexting in the past year, and provided details of youth characteristics and the nature of the sexual images. Of the 1,560 youth surveyed, 2.5 percent had featured in or created nude or nearly nude pictures or videos, and 1 percent were involved in sexually-explicit images. Nude/nearly nude images of others were received by 7.1 percent of youth, and 5.9 percent received sexually explicit images.

"The data suggest that appearing in, creating, or receiving sexual images is far from being a normative behavior for youth," Mitchell and colleagues write.

Abstract - Wolak
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Abstract - Mitchell
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