Illinois Attorney General's Office
Logging Off for the Summer

The Attorney General’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) often works with school administrators, students, parents, law enforcement and electronic service providers when it becomes known that children have created, shared or received sexually explicit imagery. While our role consists of prevention, investigation and forensics, children and teens benefit from ongoing conversations with trusted adults about sexting.

In February 2017, the Cyberbullying Research Center released new teen sexting data after surveying 5,500 middle and high school students (aged 12-17) throughout the United States.

  • 12% of students surveyed said they had sent an explicit image of themselves to another person at some point in their lifetime.
  • 19% said they had received a sexually explicit image from someone else at some point in their lifetime.
  • Older students were more likely to report that they had participated in sexting (less than 6% of twelve year olds reported participation in sexting).
  • Boys were significantly more likely to send and receive sexts.
Sexting among Middle and High School Students

What’s the appropriate age to start these conversations?
Whenever a parent or guardian provides a device with a camera to a child, appropriate picture taking must be discussed. Conversations should occur with consideration to a child's physical, emotional and psychological development. Self-exploration of one's body is a normal part of development for toddlers and elementary age children. Therefore, it is important to discuss explicit images and let them know that no nude imagery should be taken by anyone, including adults, friends or themselves. Because sexting peaks in the late teens, conversations are imperative as youth enter adolescence, a stage of sexual curiosity. Endeavor to help your child develop his or her value system. These conversations should continue throughout their teenage and young adult years as they determine the components of healthy flirting and relationships.

What's the appropriate age to start these conversations?

Why talk about it?
The production, possession and sharing of nude photos is a serious issue. It may include social (rumors/reputation) and emotional (withdrawal/acting out) repercussions as well as disciplinary and legal consequences. As with any unwanted behavior, if a child is not caught or reprimanded, the action may recur. Perhaps your child will not produce images, but what will they do if they receive a nude image of another? Purposely forwarding the image to brag or to expose others may show an intent to harm. Encourage your child to speak to you should they receive an unsolicited image, so that you can help guide them in making good decisions. It may be awkward for them, but communication is key.

E-Info Hotline

The E-Info Hotline provides assistance to kids, teens, parents and school personnel coping with cyberbullying and Internet safety issues. If you believe that you or someone you know needs assistance, please call 1-888-414-7678 to contact an Internet Safety Specialist.


Sexting information and discussion starters

I sexted, now what?

Sexting video: Your photo fate