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APHA: Emotional Distress More Common in Sexting Students

Sexting victims more likely to report depression, suicide attempts than non-victims

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 2 (HealthDay News) -- A substantial proportion of high school students are involved in sexting behavior and they are more likely to report psychological distress, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association, held from Oct. 29 to Nov. 2 in Washington, D.C.

Shari Kessel Schneider, M.S.P.H., from the Education Development Center Inc. in Newton, Mass., and colleagues surveyed 23,187 high school students in Boston in 2010 about their involvement in sexting, defined as sending or forwarding nude, sexually suggestive or explicit photos/videos of someone they knew, via a cell phone or the Internet.

The investigators found that, in the previous year, 25.1 percent of the participants received, and 10.4 percent sent, forwarded, or posted a sext message. Five percent of the participants reported being a victim of sexting. Female students were less likely than males to receive a sext message (19.1 versus 31.1 percent). However, both groups were similarly likely to send a sext message or be a sexting victim. When compared to heterosexually-identified youth, non-heterosexually identified youth were significantly more likely to report all sexting involvements. Psychological distress was more commonly reported by students who sent or received sext messages, or were victims of sexting. Compared to non-victims, sexting victims were twice as likely to report symptoms of depression, and over five times as likely to report an attempted suicide in the past year.

"The association between sexting and psychological distress must be addressed within anti-bullying programs," the authors write.

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