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December 3, 2009

Poll finds that one-third of all youths may be involved in child porn . . . er, sexting

This new Wired story, which is headlined "Survey: One-Third of Youths Engage in Sexting," provides the basis for my post title.  Here are the details:

If you think the sexting phenomenon is growing, you’re not imagining it.  According to a new survey, almost one-third of youths admit they’ve engaged in sexting-related activities that involved either e-mailing a photo or video of themselves in the nude or being the recipient of such images.

Of those who admitted to distributing suggestive images of themselves, about 61 percent report that they were pressured by someone to send the image.  Girls were more likely to share a naked image of themselves than boys.  Those who are already sexually active were much more likely to send an image than those who were not sexually active.

Most of the respondents sent the image to a significant other or a person of romantic interest to them.  But 29 percent said they shared naked images of themselves with someone they knew only online.

These are some of the findings of a survey conducted by MTV and the Associated Press as part of a new multi-year campaign the youth-oriented television network launched on Thursday with numerous partners.  The aim of the campaign, dubbed “A Thin Line,” is to educate teens and college-age students about safe and appropriate digital behavior.  The campaign will include a half-hour MTV news special to be broadcast next Valentine’s Day that will focus on sexting as well as a series of public service announcements addressing sexting, harassment, digital prejudice and other topics.

The age group surveyed by MTV and the AP ranged from 14 to 24, so much of the "sexting" discussed in this new survey (which is available here) may not technically qualify as child porn.  But, as is documented in prior posts linked below, in various setting, sexting by teenagers sometimes has generated talk of child porn prosecutions.

Some related "sexting" posts:

December 3, 2009 at 02:21 PM | Permalink

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The ad campaign will inform the few kids who do not know about this practice, and serve to spread it. This is a great opportunity for the lawyer. Prosecute and confiscate assets from millions of people. It will use the false argument that people under 18 cannot consent. That is not true. Families cannot tell 14 year olds what to do, but the lawyer can.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 3, 2009 4:27:55 PM

The obviously correct solution is to put them in prison and subject them to lifelong registration as sex offenders. Harsh sentences solved the drug problem, and the same methods will work here too. Prosecutors: start your engines!

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Dec 3, 2009 4:46:45 PM

I detect some media driven hysteria in this poll - maybe its seeing that the actual percentage of people who report having sent "naked photos or videos" of themselves is only 10% and that figure is not broken down between those aged 14 to 17 and those aged 18 to 24. So while they imply that 1/3 of teenagers are out sending "naked photos or videos" (they don't seem to define what that phrase means) of themselves, the actual percentage is likely closer to 4%. That is still a problem, but its not nearly as bad as the article indicates.

One wonders what percentage of adults over the age of 25 have taken "naked photos or video" of themselves or others. My guess is that it is well over 4%.

Posted by: virginia | Dec 3, 2009 5:27:12 PM

Marc Shepherd --

"The obviously correct solution is to put them in prison and subject them to lifelong registration as sex offenders. Harsh sentences solved the drug problem, and the same methods will work here too. Prosecutors: start your engines!"

You're usually more analytic.

Harsh sentences have not solved the drug problem, that's true. Forty years of massive, debt-ridden government spending also have not solved the poverty problem (although capitalism has come close).

We also haven't won the war on cancer.

For that matter, harsh sentences (and lenient sentences and no sentences) haven't won the war on crime generally, and I promise you they never will.

You are way past smart enough to know that some problems are intractable. Crime and drugs are among them. They aren't going to be eliminated under harsh penalties, and they aren't going to be eliminated under soft ones. The experience in other countries, England in particular, confirms the common sense notion, however, that when the penalties for drugs go down, drug useage goes up. So if you want drug useage to go up, you know what to do.

As to engine-starting: I understand from today's news that a skull has been found kicking around in Mr. Sowell's house, in addition to the ten bodies in various states of decomposition. Not that the guy's guilty or anything; no doubt the cops planted them bodies, as they always do.

Defense counsel: start your engines!


Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 3, 2009 7:41:30 PM

Bill, I assume you could tell I was being ironic. There actually have been prosecutors — I hope that you, in your day, would not have been one of them — who have pursued full-blown child porn prosecutions for teen "sexting."

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Dec 3, 2009 10:05:28 PM

Marc --

If an agent had come to me with some nudie picture a teenager sent to his/her boyfriend/girlfriend, I would have told him that this was the Office of the United States Attorney, and that we had serious things to do, like clean out the meth dealers in town.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 3, 2009 11:20:02 PM

oh bill, didn't you read the headline? it involves 33% of all youths, so it must be a major national issue which demands attention from the highest levels of the national government! congress needs to get to the bottom of this (too bad that mark foley is gone, he would have been perfect to lead the committee). if meth dealing is such a big problem how come there isn't a survey saying that 33% of all children are out selling meth? until there is, I cannot accept that meth dealing is a problem deserving of the federal government's attention ;)

ginny :)

Posted by: virginia | Dec 4, 2009 4:49:08 PM

"oh bill, didn't you read the headline? it involves 33% of all youths...,"

I think it's 33% of those in the survey over 18, and 25% of those 14-18.

"...so it must be a major national issue which demands attention from the highest levels of the national government!"

I used to be in White House Counsel's Office, but that's been a while, so I'm afraid I can't help you. Indeed, I can't even sneak into a state dinner.

I'm losin' my stuff, I tell ya.

"...congress needs to get to the bottom of this (too bad that mark foley is gone, he would have been perfect to lead the committee)."

Not to mention Gary Studds. He's gone now, but we still have Barney (who actually DOES lead a committee).

"..if meth dealing is such a big problem how come there isn't a survey saying that 33% of all children are out selling meth?"

Because the DEA, where I once worked, clamped down. And they're not finished yet, thank goodness.

"..until there is, I cannot accept that meth dealing is a problem deserving of the federal government's attention ;)"

You need to tell that to Pat Leahy, Chairman of Senate Judiciary, who, while I was at the DEA, wrote us demanding more agents in Vermont to combat meth.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 4, 2009 7:05:06 PM

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