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Sexting Study Co-Written by Professor David DeMatteo Sparks Media Attention

Professor David DeMatteo

June 30, 2014

A study of teens’ sexting habits and their dim awareness of legal issues associated with the practice has garnered attention from media outlets including the Washington Post, WHYY/Newsworks and Philadelphia Magazine

Professor David DeMatteo, director of the law school’s JD-PhD in program in law and psychology, co-authored the study, along with Megan Murphy, a student in the program and Heidi Strohmaier, a PhD candidate in Drexel’s Psychology Department. 

The study, published online by the journal, Sexuality Research and Social Policy, found that a significant percentage of teens have sent sexually explicit text messages and that most are unaware of the harsh legal penalties they could face, with many jurisdictions treating sexting among minors as instances of child pornography.   

In an interview on KFBK radio in Sacramento, DeMatteo said the survey uncovered causes for optimism as well as alarm. 

“We did find that knowledge of the legislation could potentially have a deterrent effect,” DeMatteo said. “Sexts are typically sent in the context of an exclusive relationship, which makes the teens feel safer, but of course we could all imagine what happens when the teenage relationship breaks up.”