Online or off-line victimisation and psychological well-being: A comparison of sexual-minority and heterosexual youth

Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, IKVL, Lund University, Box 117, 221 00, Lund, Sweden, .
European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 3.34). 07/2012; 21(10):569-82. DOI: 10.1007/s00787-012-0294-5
Source: PubMed


The purpose of this study was to compare sexual-minority and heterosexual youths' exposure to sexual abuse off-line, problematic sexual meetings off-line with person/s met online and online harassment with regard to prevalence, psychological well-being and support seeking. A nationally representative sample of 3,432 Swedish high school seniors completed an anonymous school-based survey about sexuality, health, sexual abuse and online-related sexual victimisation or harassment. Sexual-minority adolescents reported a greater rate of sexual abuse, problematic sexual meetings off-line with person/s met online and online harassment, compared to heterosexual youth. When compared to non-victimised heterosexual adolescents, victimised heterosexual adolescents and non-victimised and victimised sexual-minority adolescents reported more psychiatric symptoms, lower self-esteem and a weaker sense of coherence. Same-sex sexual orientation was related to more psychiatric symptoms, lower self-esteem and a weaker sense of coherence even when controlled for victimisation and gender. Compared to victimised heterosexual adolescents, victimised sexual-minority adolescents were more likely to seek support because of sexual abuse (females) or Internet-related problems (males and females). Results for sexual-minority youth were basically the same whether sexual orientation was assessed as sexual identity or as sexual or emotional attraction. Health care providers are challenged to not only provide the same care to sexual-minority youth who seek counselling or psychiatric treatment for mental health problems or problems related to victimisation that all adolescents should receive but also to find ways to address topics like prevention of sexual abuse and risk-taking behaviour online or off-line.

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    • "Online grooming (notably among under-age users), harassment and cyberbullying have been examined extensively (e.g. Hazelwood & Koon-Magnin, 2013; Jones, Mitchell, & Finkelhor, 2012; Kierkegaard, 2008; Li, 2006; Priebe & Svedin, 2012), providing descriptive information about the victims, the different socio-psychological implications, and suggestions on legislative issues. Although cyberbullying has been perhaps the most common of these topics, in this paper we focus on online harassment with the intention of providing new information concerning victims of such behavior. "
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    ABSTRACT: The key focus in this article study is to examine the association between online harassment and exposure to websites related to self-harm or negative self-image, along with several other independent variables. Our data were collected from two countries, the U.S. and Finland, thus providing a chance for a cross-national comparison regarding these associations. According to the results, significant association between online harassment and most notably exposure to websites relating to eating disorders was found. Furthermore, subjective wellbeing, age and gender were significantly associated with online harassment. There were only minor differences between U.S. and Finland, indicating certain levels of cultural homogenization regarding the online space.
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