Teen sexting in Birmingham schools: A qualitative investigation

Research Institution / Organisation

Birmingham City University

Principal Researcher

Andrea Anastassiou

Level of Research


Project Start Date

February 2016

Research Context

​Though sexting is by no means restricted to young people, it is the participation of teenagers and the effect it has on their well-being which has led to widespread concern from parents, educators and the media alike. Despite this, there is a lack of in-depth, qualitative investigations into teen-sexting. This has resulted in calls for investigations which explore the nuances of this behaviour and how it changes in different contexts. As such, this multidisciplinary investigation aims to move away from the “outdated deviance framework” (Le, 2016) which seeks to correlate teen-sexting with negative outcomes. Instead, interviews and online-focus groups will be utilised to speak directly to year 10s and 11s throughout Birmingham to identify if their sexting experiences and opinions differ depending on the type of school (co-educational or single-sex) they attend.

This research will be the first to provide an insight into how the experience of sexting changes in different educational settings. The importance of this stems from the need for more effective interventions and policy to help support and educate young people as they navigate the rapidly evolving digital world.

Research Methodology

​Participants (N=40) will be given the opportunity to select either an individual or group semi-structured, confidential interview. Giving young people a choice in their research participation is particularly important as “the disparities in power and status between adults and young people” has been cited as the most significant ethical obstacle associated with research with young people and children (Morrow & Richards, 1996, p. 98). Allowing young people choices in how they participate in the project can help to re-address this power in-balance. Previous research with young people regarding sex and relationships has found that participants can sometimes feel unable to speak out in the presence of others. As such the option of an individual interview can provide participants with a confidential and safe setting to discuss the topic in question. Conversely, Green and Thorogood (2004) note that allowing young people to participate in group interviews within their natural friendship groups can serve to put participants at ease, thus participants will be offered the choice.

Interim reports and publications

Date due for completion

April 2020
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