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Medicine & Science
University of Texas Medical Branch Research on Sexting
by Jim Guidry
Monday, July 02, 2012

A study on adolescent sexual behavior, with a focus on “sexting”, by University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston researchers - the first study to explore the public health impact of sexting - is featured in today’s issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.  News Release

On Friday, Jim Guidry visited with Dr. Jeff Temple, UTMB assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, who is the lead author of the study. Listen

“Sexting is a combination of the words ‘texting’ and ‘sex’, Temple said, explaining that a “sext” message might be in text or nude photos.  “What I focus on is more of the images, more of the nudity and all that because I think that’s what has the potential for some legal consequences and also for some psycho-social consequences in terms of bullying and if those pictures are disseminated to a wider audience.”

Temple said his study included a wide range of subjects over a multi-year period.

“My study is a longitudinal study looking at a range of adolescent health behaviors; a lot of risky behavior, and with a particular focus on relationships, especially teen dating relationships,” Temple said, explaining that the survey included more than 1,000 teenage students in several Houston-area high schools.   “We followed the same kids each year that they’ve been in high school. “

“I’m sure you didn’t expect a study of sexting to turn out anything positive toward the individuals who participate?” Guidry asked.  “The question would be, were your results obvious, what you would expect, or did you have any surprises?”

“That’s a great question, actually,” Temple responded.  “With sexting, I don’t know if we are at the point where we can say that it is necessarily negative or a bad behavior.  I mean it’s certainly not something I would want my daughter to eventually do or my son to eventually do, but it could just be a modern day version of ‘you show me yours and I’ll show you mine’ as opposed to any type of a risky behavior - something that is predictive of something.”

Last week Temple became a trustee of the Galveston Independent School District.  We asked him to comment on how his research will impact his volunteer duties in the public school system.

“It’s something that I have not fully thought of, but I certainly think the two are inextricable,” he said.  “I think that I am going to learn some stuff about the school system and the policies that will impact my research; and I think my training as a psychologist and the research I do will certainly, hopefully affect some of the policy that we have.”

Temple said that pediatricians will benefit from his research.  He notes that his brother, Dr. Brian Temple, is a co-author of the study along with Jonathan A. Paul, Patricia van den Berg, Vi Donna Le and Amy McElhany.

Participating research institutions include UT School of Public Health and Childhood Health Associates of Salem, Oregon.

The research was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health and the John Sealy Memorial Endowment Fund for Biomedical Research.


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