Read the whole article: the interesting bit is not the sexting but the comparison with the Netherlands!

TEENAGERS are feeling pressure to send sexual images of themselves and others by mobile phone in what is becoming a potentially pervasive practice of ”sexting”, according to government-funded research.

Young people are experiencing pressure not only from each other but also from the “insidious” influence of a sexualised media culture that pressured them to be involved in sexting in order to fit in, Melbourne University researcher Shelley Walker says.

Ms Walker told the Australasian Sexual Health Conference in Canberra yesterday young men were made to feel their masculinity was in question if they were not into sexting.

Advertisement: Story continues below

Women also felt pressure to participate when they saw sexted images of their friends.

Ms Walker, of the primary care research unit at Melbourne University, said her study involved interviews with 15 male and 19 female participants, aged 15 to 20. All of those interviewed had “at least one story to share, if not more”.

She gave vignettes of the lurid images the interviewees had described, including pictures of nudity and sex acts.

Ms Walker, whose research was supported by the federal Health Department, said it highlighted the need for young people to have a greater say in how to respond to the phenomenon of sexting.

She said the study drew attention to the potentially pervasive nature of sexting.

There was now a free sexting app available for young people to download to their smartphones, which although it promoted safe sex, “does highlight how potentially normalised this behaviour has now become”.

The interviewees talked about the increasingly sexual nature of advertising and the sexual behaviour of adult role models, including those in music videos.

She quoted a 16-year-old boy who said he thought sexting was a big problem no one was looking at seriously and feared “it’s going to be everywhere”.

Another speaker said candid early sex education would not only result in Australian teenagers having their first sexual experience later but also reduce unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.

Researcher Alan McKee said the more relaxed and open approach to sex education in the Netherlands had delivered a significantly better result for young people, contradicting the grim warnings of child sexualisation voiced in Australia.

Professor McKee, who heads a sexuality development research project at Queensland University of Technology, said the campaign by those claiming early sex education prompts “sexualisation of children” was counterproductive and resulted in Australian teenagers having first sex, on average, 18 months earlier than Dutch teens.

He said there was a significantly more open and relaxed approach to discussion of sexuality by Dutch youth and their parents, where the average age of first sex relationships was 17½ compared with 16 in Australia.

The Netherlands also had a significantly lower rate of sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies among young people.

Professor McKee said early comprehensive sex education did not encourage early sex but did prevent ignorant sex.

via Teens start sexting as a way to fit in, says study.