In some instances, parents will be at risk of Criminal charges if their child’s phone is in their name While the legal risks of sexting have loomed large in media and crime control coverage as well as academic responses to the practice since 2008 11, also present in these warnings are references to the intimate and financial risks that sexting may pose to minors’, and particularly to girls’, reputations and future prospects [10,27].Notably, despite the fact that the legal rationale for criminalizing child pornography rests on fears about the risk of sexual exploitation, this fear plays a very minor role in anti-sexting PSAs and warnings 12.While this claim is not completely unfounded , a survey of college-bound students conducted by Kaplan found that more than three-quarters of respondents said they would not be concerned if a college admissions officer Googled them .Part of this confidence had to do with youths’ increased online savviness and their attention to “strengthening privacy settings and circumventing searches [as demonstrated by the fact that] 22% had changed their searchable names on social media, 26% had untagged themselves from photos, and 12% had deleted their social media profiles altogether.” The study also acknowledged that such online searches might in fact be beneficial for youth if they “turn up postings of sports scores, awards, public performances or news of something interesting they’ve undertaken”  14.Moreover, as Klettke and co-authors note in their systematic review of the literature regarding sexting’s prevalence rates, risks, and protective factors, researchers ought to be wary of drawing causal relationship between sexting and risky behaviours (, p. For example, individual studies may be methodologically flawed if they fail to consider the possibility and relevance of a third variable (such as a lack of progressive sexual education) that could explain the correlation between certain practices.As an example, while the long-term trend of declining teen pregnancy rates in Canada appears to have come to an end, at least for the moment, claiming that this rise is caused by increased sexting behaviours would ignore solid evidence that suggests “teenage girls are more likely to get pregnant when they have fewer education or employment opportunities to postpone child-bearing for” .But what carries a longer sentence is how your actions online can follow you for a lifetime” .Here and elsewhere, the RCMP suggests that sexters will inevitably lose control of their sexual images which will then make their way onto the internet thus affecting teens’ chances to obtain higher education and employment given that: “post-secondary institutions and employers often use the internet to help with the hiring or acceptance” .
Heterosexuals, for instance, also practice anal sex in high numbers, whereas not all gay men do.
For example, the study by Huock discovered that sexting was associated with same-sex sexual behaviours, and those who “sexted endorsed more intentions than their peers to have sex in the next 6 months, suggesting that targeted interventions with this group are warranted” (, p. This study further emphasizes that “attention should be paid to adolescents’ electronic communication because sexting may be a marker for sexual risk behaviours that can have significant consequences, including pregnancy or disease” (, p. Results such as these, however, ought to be scrutinized for a variety of reasons.
To begin with, unprotected sex and sex combined with alcohol and drug use ought to be of concern for youth, and adults, regardless of whether a relationship to digital technology exists.
Although we have yet to witness the prosecution of teenagers for scenarios that fall within the exemption’s parameters, or for consensual distribution that falls outside of these parameters, we have seen the development of numerous anti-sexting campaigns by police and child protection agencies which decry the very possibility of consensual and ‘safe sexting’, let alone the affordances of the practice as acknowledged by the Supreme Court [9,10].
In this article, we argue against the construction of youths’ ‘risqué imagery’ as inherently risky and thus potentially subject to legal censure 6.