Date of Award

January 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Wendelin M. Hume


This exploratory dissertation research involves assessing the prevalence of sexting (sending, receiving and/or forwarding of sexually explicit images with your smart phone) that is taking place among young adults on a Midwest college campus. Other key findings include: a profile of those who sext whether in a conformist or non-conformist manner, and those who do not sext, profiles of and the toll on self-reported victims of the behavior, sexting motivations, and the possible connection to prevalent smart phone ownership. In addition, North Dakota is one of a few states that has a law prohibiting some forms of sexting; therefore, this research probes the perception of legality of sexting and its impact on sexting behavior. Of the 624 college student participants, 410 (65.7%) indicated that they have sent, received and/or forwarded sexts, while 214 (34.3%) do not sext. Of the 410 sexters, only 22 (5.4%) indicated sexting in a non-conformist way according to the North Dakota century code. There were 72 (17.6%) sexters who identified as victims of non-conformist sexting according to North Dakota century code. Of those who sext, most are motivated in a way that is sexual in nature or to provide a joke/fun. After being provided the language of the North Dakota century code which prevents the distribution of intimate images without or against consent, most indicated that they have not sexted in a non-conformist manner and will not in the future. In addition, most participants have not reported any illegal sexting to law enforcement or university officials, but the vast majority said they would so in the future.