Journal of Social, Behavioral, and Health Sciences




The sending of sexually explicit messages, or “sexting” has been recognized as a common practice among youths. As sexting may involve the creation and distribution of sexually explicit images and videos, juvenile sexters can be charged with offenses related to child pornography. This study examined public attitudes toward juvenile sexting and demographic influences on these views. Based on a quantitative survey of 1,023 U.S. adults, the majority of respondents (51.8%) disapproved of criminalization in cases of consensual sexting, but 80% supported legal repercussions for nonconsensual sharing. Respondents primarily favored educational interventions (67.4%) and restrictions on technology use (53.4%) over harsh punishments, such as incarceration (15.2%) and sex offender registration (11.5%). Multiple regression analyses revealed that age, sex, and political orientation significantly shaped these attitudes, with older and conservative respondents more likely supporting criminalization, and males showing leniency. The findings suggest public support for differentiating consensual sexting and nonconsensual sharing in legal terms and for prioritizing education over punitive measures.