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The other category of sexting is called “experimental,” which involves no malice, surprise, or lack of consent between participants and which rarely results in an arrest (18% do, according to the CCRC). This is another kind of sexting that can cause serious harm.
“Sexting” is a relatively new word that typically refers to sex-related or nude photos taken and shared via cellphone (most sexting happens on phones and doesn’t make it to the Web, according to research in the medical journal Pediatrics).
Some experts say sexting can also be just sexually explicit text.
* Sexting as an act of anger, revenge or other social aggression.
This kind of sexting can start out consensual but go very wrong – and harmful.
Exposing or distributing very personal photos of someone without his or her consent is a violation of trust that can cause severe embarrassment, harm to a reputation, or other emotional hurt.
Both those forms of victimization are what’s called “aggravated” (criminal or abusive) sexting by researchers at the University of New Hampshire’s Crimes Against Children Research Center.
It’s important to keep in mind, too – whether or not sexting is illegal for people of any age in your state, province, or country – there can be significant psychological consequences, if coercion’s involved or if consensual sexting turns into a violation of trust between two people (if one partner later shares photos without the other’s consent).
When someone uses pressure or coercion to get nude or sexually explicit photos from another person, that’s usually a form of sexual harassment.
Young people need to see that pressure for what it is – that it’s inherently disrespectful and abusive, that they owe themselves the self-respect that prevents this victimization, and that there are laws against it in many jurisdictions.
The practice is not illegal when photos are shared between consenting adults, but when minors are involved, sexual-exploitation and child-pornography laws can come into play, so great care is needed in the handling of sexting cases involving people under 18.
However, although there have been some highly publicized cases, prosecution of minors for distribution of sexting photos has been relatively rare in the US.
But it can definitely be a form of victimization either from the outset or after a break-up or conflict in a relationship.
These two types of victimization, premeditated and reactive, are what education about sexting’s risks needs to focus on: * Sexting as sexual harassment.