Who does the sexting?

Sexting, selfies, grooming and porn are often linked together in a complex web. Sending sexy selfies is a common part of the technology-enabled flirting scene among teens today, but it can lead to being reported to the police and put on their database.

Girls are heavily influenced by the ‘glamorous’ celebrity culture that promotes music with women scantily clad, wearing bondage-style shoes and posing submissively in a sexually provocative way. The men by contrast are dressed in normal clothes standing in a pose of dominance. Most female celebrities and porn stars have their own websites too.

Using their smartphones, many young women imitate these sexy images and send them to prospective boyfriends in the hope of attracting their attention. Boys also send unasked for naked images of their ‘crown jewels’ in the hope of impressing the girls.

Studies report that lots of young men ask for, or even coerce, young women into sending them such photos. In the past teen boys may have swapped Playboy magazines, the trend today is to swap photos of naked girls, especially of their school mates.

Some young men have certainly been convicted of possession of ‘child pornography’ by reason of possession of erotic selfies from underage girls. However most convictions are for older men. These adult men almost invariably pose as younger men and encourage girls to send them topless or naked selfies. They often engage them in chat rooms and on dating websites with the hope of developing enough trust and intimacy to persuade them to meet up and have sex with them without parental consent. In the worse case scenario, they groom them with a view to abducting them.

Grooming strategies include eliciting personal information from the young person that they then use against them, threatening them with exposure to their parents unless they agree to meet with them for sexual favours.

Research on child sex offenders reveals that these older men often have what is called “cognitive distortion.” That is they are in denial about the coerciveness of their behaviour or seek to blame the child for looking older and therefore being provocative.

This is a general guide to the law and does not constitute legal advice.

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