Media, legal and young people’s discourses around sexting

Alyce McGovern, Thomas Crofts, Murray Lee, Sanja Milivojevic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


The term sexting has come to be associated with media, political and public concern over young people’s involvement in the sending and/or receiving of nude or semi-nude images and/or videos of one another. Public discourses around sexting have framed the practice as problematic, reflecting long-held – and often very real – anxieties over young people and their sexuality. Of particular focus in relation to sexting have been the risks and harms associated with the practice and current or potential legal responses. Missing from much of this public discourse, however, have been the voices of young people themselves. In order to bring young people’s voices into the discourse, this article draws on research conducted with young people, as well as extensive legal and media analysis of sexting by young people. It contrasts these popular and legal discourses around sexting with the discourses of young people themselves, exploring the ways in which they understand and perceive sexting and how these perceptions converge with and diverge from dominant discourses. In this way, the article demonstrates the fundamental discord between such discourses, indicating the need to rethink legal responses to sexting between young people.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)428-441
Number of pages14
JournalGlobal Studies of Childhood
Issue number4
Early online date7 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes


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