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Media Coverage of Colorado Sexting Scandal Cites Professor David DeMatteo’s Research

Professor David DeMatteo

November 19, 2015

The Wall Street Journal, CNN and other media outlets covering a sexting investigation at a Colorado high school have cited the study Professor David DeMatteo co-authored on adolescents’ sharing of explicit messages and images via cell phones.

Adolescents who engage in sexting face dramatically disparate legal consequences, depending on the states where they reside, Professor David DeMatteo told the Wall Street Journal in an article published on Nov. 8.

The article, focusing on an investigation at a Colorado high school where hundreds of students appear to have exchanged nude photos of themselves, noted that some states treat sexting as child pornography that carries significant penalties.  

“Not only can (sexting) have social consequences in terms of humiliation and ostracism, but it can have legal consequences,” DeMatteo said, recommending diversion and education instead of criminal charges that could lead to listing on sex-offender registries.

CNN and USA Today cited the 2014 study in which DeMatteo and his co-authors found that a significant percentage of adolescents engage in sexting but that few realize that the behavior is illegal and can carry severe legal sanctions.

DeMatteo, director of the JD-PhD Program in Law and Clinical Psychology, is a senior consultant with the Pennsylvania Mental Health and Justice Center of Excellence.