In all, 3,000 teens from the Netherlands took part in the survey. Social media such as WhatsApp was the most popular means of disseminating saucy selfies, with 20 percent having dispatched snaps via such platforms. Videos were less popular, with only six percent having sent one.
Commenting, Hanneke de Graaf, Researcher at sexual health foundation Rutgers, said sending nude photographs is "something this generation does," and was viewed by senders and recipients as a "nice thing to do" for their partner.
Still, despite the apparent lack of concern among sexters, the minority who did regret sharing intimate content did so on the basis it damaged their reputations, highlighting the intrinsic incongruity at the core of sexting — a sender is the one looked down upon, even though the recipient is committing a criminal offence by sharing the photo with others.
However, Rutgers has challenged this principle, suggesting it is important to keep such offenses off permanent records unless deeply serious, on the basis young people involved are often unaware of the gravity of their actions, and the impact they could have on victims. Given technology facilitates the easy and wide spread of a sexual photo, a decision made by accident, or spontaneously, could have dire unintended consequences.
The organization suggests sexting crimes be treated as light sexual offenses, where the culprit receives a restraining order from the Council for Child Protection, and the lifelong label of sex offender does not apply.
Nonetheless, the poll results tell a divergent story to the findings of a February Bureau Jeugd & Media study, which suggested a mere one in 15 Dutch youngsters had sent sexual photos of themselves to others.
Laws around sexting in other countries have similarly proved controversial. Critics in the UK, for instance, have said the country is blighted by a "moral panic" which has produced "ill-thought-out laws," introduced because elements of society demand "something must be done."
This notion was perhaps highlighted when in 2015, a 14-year old boy sent his girlfriend a naked picture via Snapchat and received a criminal record for "making and distributing indecent images of a child."