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Teen ‘sexting’ concerns unfounded

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Only around 2.5 percent of teens engage in “sexting,” or sending sexual images by phone or email, and few of these would violate pornography laws, a study showed Monday.

The study appearing in the journal Pediatrics found that concerns on the practice of sexting, which came to the forefront after a scandal involving a US congressman, appeared to be overblown.

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“Lots of people may be hearing about these cases discovered by schools and parents because they create a furor, but it still involves a very small minority of youth,” said lead author Kimberly Mitchell of the University of New Hampshire’s Crimes against Children Research Center.

The researchers surveyed 1,560 Internet users ages 10 through 17 about their experiences with sexting — appearing in, creating, or receiving sexual images or videos via cell phone or the Internet.

The study found that 2.5 percent of youth surveyed have participated in sexting in the past year, but only one percent involved images that potentially violate child pornography laws with images that showed “naked breasts, genitals or bottoms.”

In a second study, researchers discovered that in most sexting cases investigated by the police, no juvenile arrest occurred.

There was an arrest in 36 percent of the cases where there were aggravating activities by youth, such as using the images to blackmail or harass other youth. In cases without aggravating elements, the arrest rate was 18 percent.

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The second study was based on a national sample of 675 sexting cases collected from law enforcement agencies. The study also found that the very few teens who were subjected to sex offender registration had generally committed other serious offenses such as sexual assault.

“Most law enforcement officials are handling these sexting cases in a thoughtful way and not treating teens like sex offenders and child pornographers,” said lead author Janis Wolak of the research center.

In both studies, researchers found that sexual images of youth rarely were widely distributed online as many parents, youth, and law enforcement fear.

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In the teen survey, 90 percent of the youth said the images they created did not go beyond the intended recipient.

Even in the cases where the images came to the attention of the police, two-thirds of the images stayed on cell phones and never circulated online.

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John Oliver unleashes on news sites that sent out stupid push notifications

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"Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver doesn't come back until Feb. 16, but he dropped a new web-exclusive video Sunday complaining to news agencies that they should stop sending out stupid push notifications on their apps.

Oliver told his audience that there are two major criteria when considering a push notification: 1. Is there something I should be doing differently?; and 2. Is this something I need to know now?

Things like declarations of war, earthquakes or acts of terrorism are all perfect examples of things news agencies should inform readers about quickly. But when CNN sent out a push notification about a 115,000 Neanderthal child that was only found "half-eaten" by a bird, Oliver was understandably frustrated.

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‘Mueller told us this would keep happening’: Ex-FBI counterintelligence expert says Russian hacks are ‘the new normal’

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In an MSNBC panel discussion Tuesday, former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence, Frank Figliuzzi, warned that American law has not kept up with technology. As a result, the laws and regulations on international hacking are ambiguous. The recent act by Russia to hack the Ukrainian oil and gas company Burisma to search for dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden is exactly what former special counsel Robert Mueller cautioned would happen in 2020.

"We have been told, including by Bob Mueller, that Russians were doing this in an ongoing fashion," said Figliuzzi. "This is the new battlefield. This is the new normal. We're going to see this go on and on and on. And it may be Joe Biden that this is about right now, but every candidate should hunker down and get ready for foreign influence, hacking and propaganda."

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Cyberspace is the next front in Iran-US conflict – and private companies may bear the brunt

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Iran and other nations have waged a stealth cyberwar against the United States for at least the past decade, largely targeting not the government itself but, rather, critical infrastructure companies. This threat to the private sector will get much worse before it gets better and businesses need to be prepared to deal with it.

As in the days of pirates and privateers, much of our nation’s critical infrastucture is controlled by private companies and enemy nations and their proxies are targeting them aggressively.

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