Signs to stop the sex texts are popping up around Milwaukee. Gary Mueller of the non-profit group Serve Marketing says its hard to get teens attention, so he came up the idea of a condom over a cell phone. As teens equate condoms with safe sex, he thought the message could be "safe text."
Mueller says another goal of the United Way sponsored campaign is to engage parents who are all too often apprehensive in talking to their kids about the activity. The posters are placed around 20 bus shelters en route to schools.
A recent study from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy says one out of five admitted to sending or receiving nude texts. But Mueller conducted focus groups in which around half of teens admitted to sexting.
So why are kids doing it? Bradford Brown, Professor of Educational Psychology and Human Development at UW Madison, says this is where communication has progressed for youths.
"Sharing photos, sharing stories and so on is just part of the normal source of conversation," says Brown.
Teens are more likely to get angry or interested in something, without thinking of the long term consequence says the psychologist. Brown adds society becoming more sexualized, with material on the internet and TV, is also a likely factor in this type of activity.
Several recent incidents in the area have involved high schoolers sending nude photos of teens and facing legal consequences. A case in Waukesha involved 100 people seeing images of a 14-year-old girl.