"When teachers are hammering you with the scary, nitty-gritty details of sex—yet your friends are pressuring you to do it—engaging in an act reminiscent of sex is almost like a safe compromise," says 20-year-old Lauren,* who often exchanges suggestive pictures and texts with her long-distance boyfriend.
"In a mature relationship with someone I trust and am able to talk to, sexting can be really nice.
Recently, in Cincinnati, when a teenage girl killed herself after a sext she'd sent to her boyfriend went public, her parents sued the boy for invasion of privacy and infliction of emotional distress.
'"), but she knows of many girls who would have.Boys feel the pressure too, she says: "I think guys ask for pictures with the expectation that the girl will say no, but they ask anyway because they feel like that's part of being a guy."While both genders create and send around risqué images—sexting often seems to include a promise of reciprocity, an "I'll send you mine if you send me yours" sort of thing—in almost all instances reported in the media, it's the girl's photo that goes viral, which can make the exchange far more dangerous for her."Guys are more open to showing their friends pictures of a girl, either because they think she's hot or because they want to make fun of her," Kat says."A lot of kids don't know what can happen when they sext," says Stephanie Mihalas, Ph.D., a psychologist in Los Angeles who has worked with many clients who have gotten into trouble for texting explicit photos and videos.