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Comment & Response
September 2018

Nonconsensual Sexting and the Role of Sex Differences

Author Affiliations
  • 1Graduate School of Public Health, Health Promotion & Behavioral Science, San Diego State University, San Diego, California
  • 2Center on Gender Equity and Health, Division of Global Public Health, School of Medicine, University of California, La Jolla
  • 3Institute for Behavioral and Community Health, San Diego State University Research Foundation, San Diego, California
JAMA Pediatr. 2018;172(9):890. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.1948

The publication by Madigan et al1 in JAMA Pediatrics offers important insight into the sexting behaviors of adolescents, based on a rigorous systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature.1 Madigan et al1 document that among youths, 14.8% and 27.4% have sent or received sexts, respectively. The authors also highlight the issue of nonconsensual sexting, with 12.0% of youths having forwarded a sext and 8.4% having had their sexts forwarded without consent,1 behaviors indicative of an increasing trend of cyber sexual harassment (CSH) among adolescents. We commend the authors for highlighting the issue of nonconsensual sexting as a critical and less-understood area for future research. Sexting consensually may be part of a healthy sexual relationship, but may also leave those involved vulnerable to the nonconsensual sharing of sexts, requiring intervention and protection. Notably, the findings by Madigan et al1 suggest that future research needs to distinguish whether it is sexting or the high prevalence of nonconsensual sexting or other forms of CSH that may be contributing to adverse health outcomes commonly reported as associated with sexting. A first step toward such analyses must consider the gendered aspects of nonconsensual sexting.