What is sexting?

Sexting is sending, forwarding and/or receiving sexually explicit messages or photos by phone, computer or other electronic devices.

Once a sext message is sent it can affect everyone that receives and/or forwards it. One single sext message has a lot of consequences.

Sexting is like toothpaste…

Imagine if you took a tube of toothpaste and squeezed it all into the sink. Now, picture if someone handed you a spoon and said, “Put all the toothpaste back into the tube.” You can’t!

Like the toothpaste, once you press “Send,” it’s out of your hands. You’ve created a mess and you can’t undo it. There’s no way you can go to every phone, every computer, every device and every server and get that text back.

Sexting is a new problem…

This technology is still fairly new. In the past, if a person wanted an “instant” photo, they had to take a Polaroid picture and physically give it to someone else. Now, a photo can be shared with millions of people in a matter of seconds.

  • 10% – Of teen girls ages 13-16 have been involved with sending or receiving sexually explicit messages
  • 26% – Of high school students reported to have sent a naked picture of themselves through text/email
  • 73% – Of youth who sent a sext reported that their parents had never discussed the dangers of sexting with them

Researchers from Drexel University surveyed college students, asking them if they had ever sent or received “sexually explicit text messages or images” when they were under age 18.


Before hitting send, remember that you cannot control where this image may travel. What you send to a boyfriend or girlfriend easily could end up with their friends, and their friends, and their friends.

Emotional Consequences

  • Objectification/possible victimization
  • Loss of friends, bullying
  • Feeling sad, depressed, withdrawn
  • Thinking about or actually hurting self/others

Future Consequences

  • Employment
  • College admission
  • Joining the military
  • Re-living the emotional consequences when old photos/sext messages re-surface

Legal Consequences

  • Federal prosecution under child pornography laws (that includes the picture taker, person in the picture, sender, receiver and anyone who is in possession or has seen the photo)
  • Risk of placement on Sex Offender Registry
  • Jail time

How to Get Help and Stop Sexting

  • Think about the consequences of taking, sending or forwarding a sexual picture of yourself or someone else underage. You could get kicked off of sports teams, lose educational opportunities and even get in trouble with the law.
  • Never take images of yourself that you wouldn’t want everyone—your classmates, teachers, family—to see.
  • Never forward someone else’s sext message(s). It’s not funny, and could land you in serious trouble.
  • Report any unwanted sexual messages you receive to a trusted adult.