The Crimes Against Children Research Center conducted two national surveys to develop a better understanding of sexting.

The Third Youth Internet Safety Survey was a telephone survey done in 2010 with national sample of 1560 youth Internet users aged  10–17 years and their parents. 

  • Almost 10% of youth (mostly girls aged 16–17 years) said they had “appeared in, created, or received nude or nearly nude images or videos.” Of these, 26% appeared in or created images, half of which were sexually explicit such as “showing breasts, genitals, or someone’s bottom” and the other half were sexually suggestive such as wearing underwear, striking sexy poses, or focusing on genitals in clothes.
  • The remaining youth received images of which 84% were sexually explicit but did not create or appear in them.
  • More than 50% of sexting incidents were related to existing romantic relationships or efforts to start one, whereas 20% were characterized as pranks.
  • Among all young people involved in sexting, 28% reported incidents to an authority while 25% reported emotional distress.
  • Less than than 10% of images were distributed further.
  • Read the formal report: Mitchell KJ et al. Prevalence and characteristics of youth sexting: A national study. Pediatrics 2012 Jan; 129:13.

In a 2008/2009 national survey of 2500 US law enforcement agencies, 21% handled one or more cases involving youth-produced sexual images (created by young people 17 years of age or younger) that were or could have been child pornography under the statutes of their jurisdictions.  Read the formal report: Wolak J et al. How often are teens arrested for sexting? Data from a national sample of police cases. Pediatrics 2012 Jan; 129:4.

Source: Journal Watch Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine February 1, 2012