OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. (WZZM) - A new survey shows a significant number of Ottawa County teens are sexting and many others are affected by cyberbullying.
For the first time ever, researchers in Ottawa County turned to social media topics when surveying more than 3,700 local students. The survey was given to eighth, tenth, and 12th graders.
This year's Youth Assessment Survey includes questions about sexting and cyberbullying.
"We're hearing a lot about bullying, we're hearing it in the media, and kids are talking about it," says Marcia Knol, epidemiologist and researcher for the survey.
The results show that about 17% of females have seriously thought about suicide. Eight percent of those surveyed reported being bullied on social media. Nearly 15% of 12th graders admitted to sending or posting a naked picture of themselves.
"That's too many, period," says Knol. "We don't want any of our children doing that."
At West Ottawa High School, there is a policy of no cell phone use during class. However, the superintendent says students still have more texting and social media options available to them then ever before.
Experts say many of the poor decisions are connected to drugs and alcohol abuse.
"When they report having sex, and they didn't want to, often they report being under the influence of alcohol or other drugs," says Leigh Moerdyke, program director at Pathways MI.
"It's up to the community to say I see a problem here and I think this is a problem we could address," says Knol.
The results for individual school districts are expected to be available in the next couple weeks.
The survey is released every two years. Researchers say one topic they're looking at adding for the next study is synthetic drugs.