Education may be the key to addressing teen sexting
Kids will be kids and, in these modern times, that unfortunately means sending the occasional sexually charged text message to a friend or romantic partner. The "sexting" trend observed among teenagers in the U.S. has gained ample media attention, with worried parents wondering what this may indicate about their child's behavior outside of their smartphone.
Researchers at the University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital conducted a poll to determine the public opinion about teen sexting and what should be done about it. The scientists found that most adults do not support sanctions for minors who engage in this behavior.
"This poll indicates that, while many adults are concerned about sexting among children and teenagers, they strongly favor educational programs, counseling and community service rather than penalties through the legal system," said Matthew M. Davis M.D., M.A.P.P., who led the research.
About 81 percent of the poll respondents said they believe an educational program or counseling on safer sex is an appropriate response to the issue. Another 76 percent of individuals said that schools should administer information to parents and students about sexting and its potential consequences. Three-fourths of the adults said that teens who sext should have to perform community service.
But when it came to treating sexting like a crime punishable by fines or prosecution, respondents weren't so receptive. About 44 percent said they would support fines of less than $500 for the offense, and fewer than 20 percent said that sexting should be treated as a sex crime.
Currently, a total of 17 states have laws that address youth sexting, and 13 others have pending mandates on the issue.