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Are Your Teens Sexting?

ANN ARBOR (WWJ) - If you are the parent of a teenager, chances are you are concerned about "sexting" or sending sexually explicit messages or pictures via cell phone.

Sexting – sending sexually explicit, nude, or semi-nude photos by cell phone – has become a national concern, especially when it involves children and teens.

A new poll shows that the vast majority of adults do not support legal consequences for teens who sext.

Dr. Mathew Davis is the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital physician who conducted the study.

"Only 44 percent of adults support fines, and 20 percent or fewer believe that sexting should be treated as a sex crime or that sexting offenders should be prosecuted under sexual abuse laws," said Davis.

Davis said that this is a growing problem and at least 10 percent of teens know someone or they themselves have sent a sext.

"Sexting has become something of a concern for states as well, and in fact, about half the states have either enacted or are considering some new laws regarding sexting for kids," said Davis.

Majority of adults say that the consequences for sexting should be dealt with outside of the law.

Eighty-one percent think teens who send the sex messages should attend an education program or counseling

Davis says it's important for parents to talk to their kids about the long-term consequences of sexting because once an image is sent it can live forever in cyberspace.

"Among those parents who do have cell phones - 10 percent of the parents report that their teens have received a sext message and 6 percent of parents say they think their teens have sent a sext message," said Davis.

Seventeen states have already enacted laws to address youth sexting and another 13 states have pending legislation in 2012 that focuses on sexting.

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