Almost one-fifth of high-schoolers have "sexted." Nearly twice as many have been on the receiving end.
And more than one-quarter of recipients said they'd forwarded sexts to others.
Those are the startling findings of a new study looking at sexting – the sending of sexually explicit cell phone photos.
The study, appearing in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, also found that more than a third of the study's 606 participants had sexted, "despite believing that there could be serious legal and other consequences attached to the behavior."
Those consequences are no laughing matter – California is one of the states where sexters can be charged under the state's child pornography statutes. Those who are tried as an adult and convicted may receive up to six years in jail and will usually have to register as a sex offender. There are also psychological effects (see: more than 25 percent forward sexts to their friends).
As far as the breakdown: 18 percent of young men and 17 percent of young women said they'd sexted; half of the males had received at least one, while the same could be said for only 31 percent of girls.
Upwards of eight percent said the photo they'd sexted wasn't necessarily of themselves, meaning it was of someone else. Boys were nearly seven percent more likely to do that than their female counterparts.
California legislators have recently proposed a bill that would reduce the punishment for first-time offenders who are minors. Another bill, however, would punish a teenager with expulsion if he or she is caught sexting in school.
Photo by Alexander Kruel via Flickr Creative Commons.