*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on HealthDay.
Teens who share sexually explicit texts or emails — “sexters” — are more likely to have suffered sexual abuse than their peers, recent survey results suggest.
For some teenagers, “sexting may be a part of normal sexual development,” said study lead author Dr. Kanani Titchen.
But for others, it “may be an indicator of an unhealthy romantic relationship or a history of sexual abuse,” said Titchen, a postdoctoral fellow at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in New York City.
The research team surveyed nearly 600 teens living in a high-poverty area of the Bronx in New York City.
“We found that approximately 25 percent of girls and 20 percent of boys between the ages of 14 and 17 years old had ever sent a sexually suggestive or naked picture by text or email,” Titchen said.
Teens who sexted were also more likely to have had sex, she added.
“These two findings were not surprising, and are consistent with findings from previous studies of sexting among teens,” Titchen said.
But girls who said they’d been sexually abused or victimized by an intimate partner were four and three times more likely, respectively, to have sexted than other girls, she said.
And boys who had been sexually abused or victimized were twice as likely to say they’d exchanged sexual messages or images.
The study also indicated that while girls and boys send sexts at similar rates, girls are about three times more likely to feel pressured to sext.
The findings “suggest that in urban, high-poverty communities like the Bronx, teen sexting may be part of a continuum of abusive and exploitative sexual experience for both girls and boys,” Titchen said.
Participants were recruited in hospital clinic waiting rooms. Just over a third were boys. Almost 60 percent were Hispanic, and more than one-quarter were black.