Thorn’s latest research, Self-Generated Child Sexual Abuse Material: Youth Attitudes and Experiences in 2021, is the only annual tracking survey of its kind monitoring changes in minors’ behaviors and attitudes related to self-generated child sexual abuse material (SG-CSAM), more commonly known as “sharing nudes” or “sexting.”
High level findings from 2021 reveal a sustained increase in the number of young people sharing their own SG-CSAM as well as the perceived normalcy of non-consensually re-sharing another child’s SG-CSAM. The data also underscored heightened risk among boys and Hispanic/Latino youth.
Research Key Findings Include:
- Since 2019, there has been a sustained increase in minors reporting that they have shared their own nude photos with others. In 2021, 1 in 6 minors reported sharing their own SG-CSAM – a more than 60% increase from the 2019 survey. This includes 1 in 7 pre-teenagers and 1 in 5 teenagers.
- When compared with findings from past years, more pre-teens and teenagers believe their friends non-consensually re-share nudes. In 2021, the perceived normalcy of re-sharing SG-CSAM increased for the second year, with 1 in 6 minors believing that their friends at least sometimes non-consensually re-share another child’s nudes.
- Boys continue to demonstrate heightened risk for SG-CSAM behaviors. Since 2019, the number of pre-teen boys who reported sharing their own nudes doubled, while the number of teenage boys sharing their own nudes nearly tripled. Compared to girls, boys have also consistently reported a higher likelihood of non-consensually re-sharing others’ content and of thinking that re-sharing SG-CSAM can be legal.
- Latino and Hispanic youth emerged as a group demonstrating heightened risk related to SG-CSAM compared to other groups. In 2021, Hispanic and Latino minors reported a higher likelihood to share their own nudes, believe their friends are sharing nudes, and to non-consensually re-share someone else’s content compared to their non-Hispanic and non-Latino peers.
Thorn will continue to monitor trends in youth attitudes and experiences with SG-CSAM in the years to come. Our hope is this data can be used to inform and deliver successful interventions that safeguard, support, and empower young people as they navigate their digital experiences.
As a parent or caregiver, you can help the kids in your life with our Thorn for Parents resources.