Self-produced sexual images (and sometimes texts) have become an increasing source of interest and concern by specialist agencies such as law enforcement and educationalists, as well as the general public. The production of these images is often referred to as sexting (although seemingly not by many young people themselves). One definition of sexting is the sending or posting of sexually suggestive images, including nude or semi-nude photographs, via mobiles or over the Internet.
Research findings suggest that sexting conduct can be varied in terms of context, meaning and intention. For some young people, self-producing images is a means of flirting and teenage experimentation, or a way of enhancing a sexual relationship. For other young people however, sexting practices may be a ‘marker of further risk’.
Our understanding of sexting needs to recognise the complexity of sexting behaviour and be able to make a distinction between consensual and non-consensual creation and distribution of sexual images. This research is a response to the need for recognition of both the multifaceted nature of sexual interactions and the importance of further unpicking these interactions.
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Young people who produce and send nude images: Context, motivation and consequences
5 case studies from UK interviews (pdf) Insights into young people’s individual experiences, adolescent behaviours, perceptions and attitudes in relation to the process and consequences of self-producing sexual images.