(PROVIDENCE, R.I.) — Over 20 percent of seventh-graders described as “high-risk” have sent sexually explicit messages and/or pictures by cellphone, a new study following the behavior of adolescents finds.
Lead author Christopher Houck at Rhode Island Hospital’s Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center says that children with emotional or behavioral problems who engage in sexting are also much more likely to have actual sex involving touching, oral or vaginal penetration than seventh-graders who claim they don’t send provocative messages by phone.
Overall, it’s believed that about 5 percent of 12- and 13-year-olds have sexted with more than seven in ten having access to a cellphone.
While kids are generally more astute about electronic devices than their parents, Houck and his team warn that they don’t have the maturity to realize that actions, especially involving sex, can have serious consequences.
Houck wrote, “These data suggest that phone behaviors, even flirtatious messages, may be an indicator of risk. Clinicians, parents and health programs should discuss sexting with early adolescents.”
He added that at-risk teens or preteens may find it easier to sext than to deal with real face-to-face encounters.
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