As middle schools increasingly are dealing with
sexting incidents, a new study finds that students this age who text excessively and who send and receive sexually explicit text- or photo-based messages are more likely to report being
The study, "Sexting and Sexual Behavior Among Middle School Students," appears in the July 2014 Pediatrics (published online June 30).
Researchers looked at information gathered from 1,285 students ages 10 to 15 from Los Angeles-area middle schools in 2012, and compared sexting behavior with actual sexual activity and risk behavior. Of students who had access to texting, 20 percent reported having received at least one sext, and 5 percent reported having sent one. Students who sent and received sexts were more likely to be sexually active than those who hadn't. The older students, those who were black, and those who sent 100 or more text messages per day were more likely to have received a sext. Male students, those sending 100 or more texts per day, and those identifying as
lesbian, gay, bisexual or questioning were more likely to send a sext. Those who reported receiving sexts were 6 times more likely to report being sexually active than those who had not. Those who reported sending sexts were 4 times more likely to say they were sexually active compared with non-sexting peers.
Because early sexual debut is linked with higher rates of
sexually transmitted infections,
pregnancy and other risks, the authors suggest that pediatricians should counsel teens on this topic at office visits, and information about the risks of sexting should be included in middle school curricula.