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Background: The current study aimed at exploring adolescents' experiences of online sexual contacts leading to online sexual abuse by a perpetrator whom the victim had first met online. Associations with socio demographic background, experience of abuse, relation to parents, health and risk behaviors were studied. Methods: The participants were a representative national sample of 5175 students in the third year of the Swedish high school Swedish (M age = 17.97). Analyses included bivariate statistics and stepwise multiple logistic regression models. Results: In total 330 (5.8%) adolescents had gotten to know someone during the preceding 12 months for the purpose of engaging in some kind of sexual activity online. Thirty-two (9.7%) of those, the index group, had felt that they had been persuaded, pressed or coerced on at least one occasion. Sexual interaction under pressure was seen as constituting sexual abuse. These adolescent victims of online sexual abuse, the index group, did not differ with respect to socio-demographic background from the adolescents without this experience, the reference group. The index group had significantly more prior experiences of different kind of abuse, indicating that they belong to a polyvictimized group. More frequent risk behavior, poorer psychological health, poorer relationships with parents and lower self-esteem also characterized the index group. Online sexual abuse, without experiences of offline abuse, was associated with a poorer psychological health, at least at the same level as offline sexual abuse only. Conclusions: The study made clear the importance of viewing online sexual abuse as a serious form of sexual abuse. Professionals meeting these children need to focus not only on their psychological health such as symptoms of trauma and depression but also need to screen them for online behavior, online abuse and other forms of previous abuse.
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Child Adolesc Psychiatry Ment Health (2019) 13:32
Online sexual abuse ofadolescents
byaperpetrator met online: across-sectional
Linda S. Jonsson1*, Cecilia Fredlund2, Gisela Priebe3, Marie Wadsby2 and Carl Göran Svedin1
Background: The current study aimed at exploring adolescents’ experiences of online sexual contacts leading to
online sexual abuse by a perpetrator whom the victim had first met online. Associations with socio demographic
background, experience of abuse, relation to parents, health and risk behaviors were studied.
Methods: The participants were a representative national sample of 5175 students in the third year of the Swedish
high school Swedish (M age = 17.97). Analyses included bivariate statistics and stepwise multiple logistic regression
Results: In total 330 (5.8%) adolescents had gotten to know someone during the preceding 12 months for the pur-
pose of engaging in some kind of sexual activity online. Thirty-two (9.7%) of those, the index group, had felt that they
had been persuaded, pressed or coerced on at least one occasion. Sexual interaction under pressure was seen as con-
stituting sexual abuse. These adolescent victims of online sexual abuse, the index group, did not differ with respect to
socio-demographic background from the adolescents without this experience, the reference group. The index group
had significantly more prior experiences of different kind of abuse, indicating that they belong to a polyvictimized
group. More frequent risk behavior, poorer psychological health, poorer relationships with parents and lower self-
esteem also characterized the index group. Online sexual abuse, without experiences of offline abuse, was associated
with a poorer psychological health, at least at the same level as offline sexual abuse only.
Conclusions: The study made clear the importance of viewing online sexual abuse as a serious form of sexual abuse.
Professionals meeting these children need to focus not only on their psychological health such as symptoms of trauma
and depression but also need to screen them for online behavior, online abuse and other forms of previous abuse.
Keywords: Adolescent, Sexual abuse, Online, Health
© The Author(s) 2019. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
(http://creat iveco mmons .org/licen ses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium,
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and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (
publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Voluntary online sexual exposure
Most children in western countries use the internet daily
[1]. Among 17year olds in Sweden the figure is 98% [2].
e internet is mostly used for doing schoolwork, playing
online games and watching film clips, but many young
people also use it to stay in contact with people and to
meet new people for friendship, love and/or sex [2, 3].
One behavior that has been well studied recently is that of
young people sending or receiving nude images of them-
selves, so called sexting. e prevalence of sexting varies
between 2.5 and 21% depending on definition of sexting
and methodology used. Sexting is more common among
girls than boys [4, 5]. In a Swedish study of 18-year-old
students, 20.9% had engaged in some form of voluntary
sexual exposure online by posting pictures of themselves
partially undressed, flashing, masturbating, or hav-
ing sex on webcam [6]. Similar results were reported by
the same group from a study 5years later where 21% of
18-year old students reported having posted or sent nude
images [7]. e motivations for sexting have been found
Open Access
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
and Mental Health
1 Barnafrid, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Department of Clinical
and Experimental Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Linköping University,
581 83 Linköping, Sweden
Full list of author information is available at the end of the article
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Jonssonetal. Child Adolesc Psychiatry Ment Health (2019) 13:32
to sometimes be for reasons other than sexual; many
individuals who engage in texting say they do it for fun,
to receive confirmation, to be seen by other, or because
they think it is expected from them by their partner when
in a relationship. Sexting can also be done because a
person has been threatened to send a nude image [8] in
such cases an important boundary has been crossed into
involuntary abusive situation.
Online sexual abuse
Even if most sexual contacts online are voluntary and do
not involve anything that might be seen as sexual abuse,
there is always a possibility that children can be sexually
abused online. One well studied area involving possi-
ble sexual abuse concerns unwanted sexual approaches,
especially those made by an adult who contacts children
for sexual purposes. In a Swedish study of 14–15 year
old children, 30% (48% of the girls and 18% of the boys)
reported that unknown adults had made contact with
them via the internet and made suggestions of a sexual
nature during the preceding year [9]. Sexual approaches
were experienced more often by girls than boys and were
also more common among older adolescents and those
defining themselves as gay, bisexual or as being unsure
about sexual orientation [7]. Wolak etal. [10] found that
the group most vulnerable to sexual approaches and
grooming tend to consist of high-risk youths with a prior
history of sexual abuse. Individuals who use chatrooms,
communicate with people met online, engage in sexual
behavior online and who share personal information
online also place themselves at risk [1113]. Baumgartner
etal. [14] found that adolescents taking most risks online
also were more likely to face negative consequences such
as abusive situations than those who did not engage in
risky online behavior. ese adolescents were more likely
to be sensation seekers who have a low level of satisfac-
tion with their lives and/or who have family difficulties.
Livingstone and Smith [15] found that fewer than one
in five adolescents were affected by negative sexual expe-
riences online. Hamilton-Giachritsis etal. [16] found in
their study (including interviews and a questionnaire) of
children victims of online sexual abuse, that the abuse
involved control, permanence, black mail, re-victimiza-
tion and self-blame. Among the participating children
who were screened for post traumatic stress, four out of
five had a score consistent with a diagnosis of posttrau-
matic stress. e study showed the seriousness of online
sexual abuse and that the victims need professional sup-
port. Except for the study by Hamilton-Giachritsis etal.
[16] the subject of online sexual abuse and the effects that
follow have only been sparsely studied.
e current study aimed to study experience that Swed-
ish adolescents have had of sexual abuse by a person met
is study focused on the association of online sexual
abuse with:
Socio-demographic background
Experiences of emotional-, physical- and sexual
Psychological health
Relationships with parents
Risk behaviors, including internet behavior.
e study population consisted of a representative sam-
ple of Swedish high school seniors in their third and last
year at Swedish high school when most were 18years old.
In Sweden, about 91% of all 18-year-old adolescents are
enrolled in high school [17]. e Swedish agency, Sta-
tistics Sweden, selected schools that might participate
based on information from the Swedish National School
Register. Stratification was made on the basis of school
size and educational programs (20 programs ranging
from those with a vocational profile to those designed to
prepare students for entrance into a university) as indi-
cated by data in the National School Register for second
year high school student, in the fall term, 2013. One or
two study programs were selected from each school.
A total of 13,903 adolescents from 261 of 1215 Swed-
ish high schools were selected and of the 261 schools
238 met the criteria for selection in 2014. An additional
sample from Stockholm County was selected using the
same selection criteria. e response rate for Stockholm
county was lower (48.7%) than for the rest of the coun-
try (65.3%). Differences were also seen regarding the
size of schools. In Stockholm, fewer of the respondents
came from schools with 10–190 pupils (13.9%) compared
to the rest of the country (22.1%) and more often came
from middle-size schools with 191–360 pupils (51.2%)
compared to the rest of the country (41.6%), resulting in a
small effect size (Cramer’sV = .10). Few differences were
found between the sample from Stockholm and the rest
of the country, so answers from Stockholm were used in
this study.
Finally, 171 schools with 9773 adolescents agreed to
participate in the study and 5873 students in these com-
pleted the questionnaire. irty-four questionnaires were
excluded due to unserious answers or a high amount of
missing data, leaving 5839 satisfactory questionnaires.
is gave a response rate of 59.7%. e mean age of the
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Jonssonetal. Child Adolesc Psychiatry Ment Health (2019) 13:32
participants was 17.97 (SD = .63). An additional 124
questionnaires were excluded since the index question,
“Have you gotten to know anyone on the internet dur-
ing the last 12months that you had sex with online?” was
not answered. e final sample consisted of 5715 ado-
lescents. Participants who answered that they had felt
persuaded, pressed or coerced when having sex online
(sexually abused online) during the last year, constituted
the index group and all other adolescents constituted the
reference group.
e national agency Statistics Sweden distributed and
collected the questionnaires. Information about the
study was sent to the principals of the selected schools
by mail in August 2014. Questionnaires were answered in
digital format by entered answers into computers in 165
schools, where computers were not available, students
filled in paper copies of the questionnaire (six schools).
A reminder was sent to the schools that had not delivered
data by the end of the first month. Information about the
study was given to the principals and to the teachers in
charge when the questionnaires were to be filled. Stu-
dents gave their informed consent for participation by
answering the questionnaire. All participating students
received written information about where to turn for
help and support if needed at any time after the day on
which they had submitted the completed questionnaire.
e questionnaire used in the present study was a modi-
fied version of a questionnaire used in two previous stud-
ies carried out in 2004 and 2009 (Svedin and Priebe [18,
19]). It comprised 116 main questions. Questions con-
cerned socio-demographic background, experiences of
abuse, and risk behaviors. In addition, three standardized
instruments measuring relationships with parents and
psychosocial health were used.
Socio‑demographic background
Demographic questions were drawn up for the purpose
of the study (listed in Table 2a). e adolescents self-
reported the demographic information.
Abusive experiences
Sexual abuse was measured using the question: “Have
you been exposed to any of the following against your
will”, followed by six examples (someone flashed in front
of you, touched your genitals, you masturbated someone,
vaginal, oral, vaginal or anal penetration). e answers
were analyzed in two categories, any sexual abuse (all
questions) and penetrative abuse (oral, anal or genital
penetration), see Table2b.
Emotional abuse was measured using the question:
“Have you prior to the age of 18 been subjected to any
of the following by an adult”, with these three examples:
been insulted, threatened to be hit, or been isolated from
friends, see Table2b. Participants who answered “yes” to
one or more of the questions were considered victims of
emotional abuse.
Physical abuse was measured using the same word-
ing used for emotional abuse, but with eight examples
of physical abuse (Table2b). Participants who answered
“yes” to one or more of the questions were considered
victims of physical abuse.
Relationships withparents
e Parental Bonding Instrument [20, 21] is an instru-
ment that measures an individual’s perception of paren-
tal styles during childhood. e instrument consists of 25
items, where 12 relate to the subscale “care” and 13 relate
to the subscale “overprotection. e response options
are presented on a 4-point scale, from “very like” to “very
unlike”. e total score for “care” ranges from 0 to 36 and
from 0 to 39 for “overprotection. Items assess perception
of maternal and paternal behaviors separately. PBI has
been evaluated as an attachment instrument with strong
psychometric properties in a review by Ravitz etal. [22].
Cronbach’s alpha for mother care in the present sample
was .87, and for father care .89. Mother and father over-
protection were .84, and .78, respectively.
Self-esteem was measured by the Rosenberg self-
esteem scale [23]. e instrument measures self-esteem
using 10 items with four possible answers, ranging from
“strongly agree” to “strongly disagree”. e total score
varies between 0 and 30, with high scores correspond-
ing to high self-esteem. In the current sample, Cronbach’s
alpha for the total scale was .90.
Trauma symptoms were measured using the Trauma
Symptom Checklist for Children [TSCC: 24, 25]. e
questionnaire includes 54 questions that can be divided
into six categories: anxiety, depression, post-traumatic
stress, sexual concerns, dissociation and anger. Response
options are “never”, “sometimes”, “often” and “almost all of
the time”. Cronbach’s alpha in the present sample was .95
for the full instrument and .79–.88 for the six subscales.
Risk behaviors
Health-risk behaviors were measured using questions
related to sexual or non-sexual risk-taking. Non-sexual
risk-taking was measured with questions about use of
alcohol and drugs, see Table5.
Sexual risk-taking behaviors were measured using
questions about age of onset for sexual debut and having
had more than six sexual partners, see Table5.
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Jonssonetal. Child Adolesc Psychiatry Ment Health (2019) 13:32
Internet behavior was measured with questions about
time spent on the internet and seven questions mainly
about sexual behavior on the internet during the last year,
see Table5.
Pornography consumption was measured by two ques-
tions, see Table5.
Data analyses/statistics
Bivariate statistical analyses were performed using
Pearson’s Chi square statistics on categorical variables.
Kolmogorov–Smirnoff test was performed to examine
whether the PBI, Rosenberg, and TSCC scales (totals and
subscales) could be assumed to be normally distributed.
As these tests indicated that they were not normally dis-
tributed, bivariate analyses on these variables were per-
formed using Mann–Whitney’s U test.
Furthermore, as there were too many variables to
be included in a multiple logistic regression model, the
number of variables to be included in a “final model” was
reduced by performing stepwise multiple logistic regres-
sion analyses for each main table separately (each table
identifies different group of factors that could be associ-
ated with sexual abuse on the internet, Table4 excluded),
All analyses were performed using SPSS, version 22.0
(IBM Inc., Armonk, NY). A p value < .05 (two-sided) was
considered statistically significant.
e study was approved by the Regional Ethical Review
Board of Linköping (Dnr, 131–31).
Online sexual abuse
Of the total of 5715 students who answered the ques-
tion about the experience of having sex online, 330 (5.8%)
answered that they had had sex online on at least at one
occasion during the preceding 12monthswith a person
met online (Table1). It was more common for boys than
girls (8.3% vs. 3.7%, p < .001) to have had that experience,
along with those who did not identify themselves as male
or female (9.4%). Of the 330 students who had had sex
online, 32 (9.7%), the index group, felt persuaded, pressed
or coerced. It was more common for girls than for boys to
have had the experience of sexual abuse online (12.8% vs.
7.2, p = .018).
ere was a difference in age between those in the ref-
erence group who had met a person online for a volun-
tary sexual experience (n = 298) and those in the index
group. ose in the index group had more often met with
older persons than for those in the reference group (78.1
vs. 53.4%, p = .007) who more often met someone of the
same age.
Sociodemographic background
e students in the index group generally had a slightly
less favorable background as concerned these factors:
parents more often unemployed and/or had a lower level
of education, students did not live with their parents less
often, less often took university-oriented study programs,
more often had an immigrant background, and were
more likely to have a poorer financial situation, than the
students in the reference group. However, these differ-
ences were not statistically significant (Table2a).
Table 1 Online sexual abuse
a Chi square test all groups
b Chi square test between boys and girls
c Of those who answered Yes on the rst question
n = 5715 Boy
n = 2519 Girl
n = 3143 Doesn’t t
n = 53 p-value
n % n % n % n % p
Have you got to know anyone on the internet during the last 12 months that you had sex with online?
No 5385 94.2 2311 91.7 3026 96.3 48 90.6 < .001a,b
Yes 330 5.8 208 8.3 117 3.7 5 9.4
Yes, once 191 3.3 110 4.4 77 2.4 4 7.5
Yes, several times 139 2.4 98 3.9 40 1.3 1 1.9
Did you felt persuaded, pressed or coerced at any time?c
No 298 90.3 193 92.8 102 87.2 3 60.0 .018a, nsb
Yes 32 9.7 15 7.2 15 12.8 2 40.0
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Jonssonetal. Child Adolesc Psychiatry Ment Health (2019) 13:32
Experience ofother forms ofabuse
As seen in Table2b, students in the index group had been
significantly more often exposed to different forms of
abuse during their childhood than those in the reference
group. For example, students in the index group were five
times as likely to have experienced penetrative sexual
abuse outside the internet than those in the reference
group (33.3% vs. 6.4%, p < .001), and two times as likely to
have had some kind of prior experience of physical abuse
(65.6% vs. 31.0%, p < .001).
Parental bonding, self-esteem andtrauma symptoms
Table 3 shows that the students in the index group
reported significantly poorer relationships with both
Table 2 Online sexual abuse—socio-demographic background (a) andexperience ofother forms ofabuse (b)
a p-value based on Chi square or Fisher’s exact test
Not sexually abused
N = 5258–5685
Sexually abused ontheinternet
N = 30–32 p-valuea
N % N % p
a. Socio-demographic background
Fathers working 4987 88.0 25 78.1 ns
Mothers working 4950 87.4 26 81.3 ns
Fathers with university education 2285 40.2 10 31.3 ns
Mothers with university education 2963 52.1 15 46.9 ns
Living situation
With both parents or alternating 4058 71.4 19 59.4 ns
With one parent with or without a new partner 1208 21.3 12 37.3 ns
Alone with sibling or partner 377 6.6 1 3.1 ns
In foster care or institution 37 .7 0 .0 ns
Study program
Theoretical 4047 71.2 20 62.5 ns
Immigrant background (self or at least one parent with immi-
grant background) 1574 27.7 13 40.6 ns
Family financial situation
Good 4516 79.5 21 65.6 ns
Poor 981 17.3 8 25.0 ns
Don’t know 185 3.3 3 9.4 ns
b. Other forms of abuse
Sexual abuse
Any sexual abuse 1085 20.6 17 56.7 < .001
Only penetrative abuse 335 6.4 10 33.3 < .001
Emotional abuse
Any emotional abuse 3276 57.8 26 81.3 .007
Insult 3100 54.7 24 75.0 .021
Threats of hitting 1113 19.6 18 56.3 < .001
Isolation from friends 938 16.5 15 46.9 < .001
Physical abuse
Any physical abuse 1756 31.0 21 65.6 < .001
Pushed, shaken 1343 23.7 17 53.1 < .001
Hit with hands 814 14.4 16 50.0 < .001
Throw something 763 13.5 10 33.3 .005
Kick, bite, hit with fist 315 5.6 8 25.0 < .001
Strangle 208 3.7 7 21.9 < .001
Hit with objects 196 3.5 3 9.4 ns
Burn, scald 99 1.7 3 9.4 .019
Other physical assault 466 8.2 11 34.4 < .001
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Jonssonetal. Child Adolesc Psychiatry Ment Health (2019) 13:32
their mothers and fathers than those in the reference
group as indicated by experienced less parental care
and more parental overprotection.
Self-esteem measured by Rosenberg self-esteem scale
was significantly lower in the index group than in the
reference group (M = 15.25, SD = 7.72 vs. M = 21.07,
SD = 6.66, p < .001), Table3.
e students in the index group also reported having
significantly poorer health on all subscales of the TSCC
than those in the reference group (all p < .001), Table3.
Table4 shows a more detailed description of the TSCC
results. e students that had been sexually abused
both online and offline scored higher than those abused
only online, but the difference only reached significance
on the subscale depression (M = 13.29, SD = 6.65 vs.
8.33, SD. = 7.43, p = .008). e index group scored gen-
erally higher on all scales than students abused outside
the internet, but there were no statistically significant
Risk behaviors, internet use andpornography
Table5 shows that the index group students reported
significantly different online behaviors than those in the
reference group. e difference was not significant with
respect to time spent online but was significant with
respect to what was being engaged in online. All of the
following behaviors were more common in the index
group than in the reference group: had more often
during the preceding year shared contact information
(43.8% vs. 12.0%, p < .001), looked for someone to talk
sex with (38.7% vs. 3.8% %, p < .001) or had sex with
(35.5% vs. 3.5%, p < .001), sent nude pictures (71.9% vs.
24.4%, p < .001) and posted nude pictures on a commu-
nity or internet site (25% vs. 1.9%, p < .001). ey also
had been offended far more often by crude sexual lan-
guage online (28.1% vs. 3.8%, p < .001).
e experience of having ever used drugs was more
common in the index group (48.4% vs. 23.3%, p < .001)
but alcohol consumption did not differ between the
index group and the reference group. ere were no
significant differences between the groups in relation
to age of sexual debut, number of sexual partners, or
extent of consumption of pornography.
Table 3 Online sexual abuse—parental bonding (PBI),
self-esteem (Rosenberg) andtrauma symptoms (TSCC)
a p-value based on Mann–Whitney U-test
Not sexually
N = 5499–5659
Sexually abused
N = 31–32
Mother care 30.02 6.29 26.19 7.71 .002
Father care 27.88 7.43 21.10 7.58 < .001
Mother overprotection 11.69 6.82 16.32 7.72 .001
Father overprotection 10.60 6.63 16.26 7.09 < .001
Rosenberg 21.07 6.66 15.25 7.72 < .001
Anxiety 4.68 3.98 8.38 5.87 < .001
Depression 5.14 4.52 10.97 6.96 < .001
Anger 4.12 4.07 7.97 5.88 < .001
Posttraumatic stress 6.19 5.06 11.78 7.18 < .001
Dissociation 5.98 4.87 10.84 6.83 < .001
Sexual concern 2.23 2.48 4.72 3.98 < .001
Critical items 1.71 2.51 5.41 5.04 < .001
Total score 29.47 20.68 56.03 32.89 < .001
Table 4 Detailed description oftrauma symptoms (TSCC) amongadolescents sexually abused (SA) online andoine
No SA (a)
N = 4185–4223 SA onlyouside
theinternet (b)
N = 1073–1091
SA onlyonthe
internet (c)
N = 15
ontheinternet (d)
N = 17
Stat sign
M SD M SD M SD M SD One way ANOVA withBonferroni correction
Anxiety 4.20 3.63 6.82 4.53 7.20 6.38 9.41 5.35 a/b .000, a/c .015, a/d .000, b/c ns, b/d .035, c/d ns
Depression 4.61 4.14 7.59 5.14 8.33 6.54 13.29 6.65 a/b.000, a/c .006, a/d .000, b/c ns, b/d .000, c/d .008
Anger 3.75 3.86 5.74 4.57 8.40 7.00 7.59 4.89 a/b .000, a/c .000, a/d .001, b/c ns, b/d ns, c/d ns
Posttraumatic stress 5.50 4.57 9.26 5.82 9.87 6.60 13.47 7.43 a/b .000, a/c .003, a/d .000, b/c ns, b/d .002, c/d ns
Dissociation 5.48 4.55 8.29 5.45 8.53 6.83 12.88 6.33 a/b .000, a/c ns, a/d .000, b/c ns, b/d .000, c/d ns
Sexual 2.02 2.35 3.10 2.77 4.80 4.90 4.65 3.10 a/b .000, a/c .000, a/d .000, b/c .045 b/d ns, c/d ns
Critical items 1.37 2.20 3.12 3.12 4.53 5.91 6.18 4.16 a/b .000, a/c .000, a/d .000, b/c ns, b/d .000, c/d ns
Total 26.80 18.91 41.44 23.13 49.07 37.62 62.18 27.78 a/b .000, a/c .000, a/d .000, b/c ns, b/d .000, c/d ns
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Jonssonetal. Child Adolesc Psychiatry Ment Health (2019) 13:32
Multiple logistic regression analyses
Stepwise multiple logistic regression analyses for
Tables 1, 2, 3 and 5, 6 separately revealed 11 variables
that could be analyzed to produce a final model with five
variables, Table6. In the final model experiences of abuse
such as penetrative sexual abuse (OR 3.68, CI 1.58–8.58)
and threats of being hit (OR 2.33, CI 1.04–5.24) were sig-
nificantly associated with being sexually abused online.
Risky internet behavior such as looking for someone
online to talk sex with (OR 6.52, CI 2.73–15.57) and post-
ing nude pictures on a community or internet site (OR
4.74, CI 1.70–13.16) were also highly associated with
having been sexually abused online. Finally, the subscale
depression was also significantly associated with being
sexually abused online (OR 1.11, CI 1.04–1.17).
To our knowledge, this study is the first to study adoles-
cents with experiences of online sexual abuse by a person
they had met online and where they had felt persuaded,
pressed or coerced. e results of the study can be sum-
marized in four main findings.
First, the study showed that most sexual contacts
online were positive experiences with persons of about
Table 5 Online sexual abuse—risk behaviors, internet behavior andpornography consumption
a p-value based on Chi square or Fisher’s exact test
b p-value based on Mann–Whitney’s U-test
Not sexually abused ontheinternet
n = 5498–5663 Sexually abused ontheinternet
n = 31–32 p-valuea
n % n % p
Alcohol use last year
Drink 2–3 times or more per month 1944 34.2 11 34.4 ns
Drug use ever
Ever used drugs, including cannabis 1316 23.3 15 48.4 .001
Sexual debut (mean age/SD) 15.55/2.50 15.78/1.78 nsb
Number of sexual partners
6 partners 950 25.5 9 37.5 ns
Time spent per day
Computer/tablet 5 h 1275 22.2 9 28.1 ns
Social media 5 h 839 14.8 9 28.1 .035
Mobile phone 5 h 1813 32.0 13 40.6 ns
Internet behavior last year
Shared your e-mail, telephone number or address to someone you only knew through the internet
Yes, several times 682 12.0 14 43.8 < .001
Looked for someone online to talk, sex with
Yes, several times 215 3.8 12 38.7 < .001
Looked for someone online to have sex with
Yes, several times 200 3.5 11 35.5 < .001
Been offended by crude sexual language when you chatted with a person you only knew through the internet
Yes, several times 212 3.8 9 28.1 < .001
Sent nude pictures 1385 24.4 23 71.9 < .001
Posted nude pictures (community/internet site) 109 1.9 8 25.0 < .001
Have you ever looked at pornography
Ye s 3865 68.1 23 71.9 ns
Have often have you looked at pornography the last 12 months ns
Not at all 34 0.9 0 0.0
1–2 times 1131 29.3 3 13.0
Sometimes each month 898 23.2 9 39.1
Sometimes each week 1196 30.9 9 39.1
More or less daily 606 15.7 2 8.7
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Page 8 of 10
Jonssonetal. Child Adolesc Psychiatry Ment Health (2019) 13:32
the same age or only slightly older. However, previous
studies have shown that having a sexual relationship with
a person met online can be viewed as a risk behavior
since this kind of contact increases the risk of facing neg-
ative consequences later, for example receiving unwanted
sexual approaches [12]. Similar reasoning has been put
forward by Baumgartner etal. [14, 26] in defining online
sexual risk behaviors as the exchange of intimate sexually
insinuating information and material with someone only
known online. In the current study, 5.8% of the adoles-
cents had had sexual experiences online with a person
they had only met online, and of those, 9.7% reported
that they had been persuaded, pressed or coerced mean-
ing that they, by definition, had been sexually abused
online. Girls were more often the victims and for girls,
the perpetrators were generally older.
Second, there were no significant differences in socio-
demographic background between the index group and
the reference group. is result can be compared to stud-
ies on children victims of online grooming [13] or adoles-
cents sending nude images [5] were it was also found that
the socio-demographic background did not differ from
children without these experiences.
ird, the adolescent victims of online sexual abuse had
backgrounds with significantly more numerous and/or
varied experiences of different forms of abuse including
physical, psychological as well as sexual abuse, especially
penetrative sexual abuse than those who had not been
victims of online sexual abuse. Earlier findings indicate
that the more severe the form of sexual abuse the more
serious the subsequent associated health issues will be,
with penetrating child sexual abuse at the upper end of
the scale of severity [27]. is study underlines these ear-
lier findings but also adds to our knowledge that online
abuse per se is also associated with poor health, low self
esteem and a poorer relationship between parent and
child. As concerns health, as measured by TSCC, online
sexual abuse only was associated with poorer health, at
least on the same level as offline sexual abuse only, with
those students who had been sexually abused both online
and offline scoring highest, supporting the polyvictimiza-
tion model [28].
These results are also supported by earlier studies
[15, 16, 2931] stating that online sexual victimiza-
tion, also including cyberbullying, are associated with
adverse emotional and psychological consequences. In
the current study, the final multiple logistic regression
model showed that online sexual abuse was strongly
associated with depression. This is in line with the
results from studies focusing on youth who had sent
sexual pictures (sexted), where both Van Ouystel etal.
[32] and Dake etal. [33] found an association between
sexting and depression. In the study by Temple etal.
[34] associations were also found between sexting and
depression in their unadjusted models, but not when
prior sexual behavior, age, gender, race, ethnicity,
Table 6 Online sexual abuse—forward StepWise logistic regression toidentify important variables amongeach block
Variables to be included in a “nal model” was reduced by performing stepwise multiple logistic regression analyses for each table separately
Block Variables identied asstatistically signicant withineach block OR (95% CI)
Table 2a Family financial situation
Poor 1.78 (.78–4.02)
Don’t know 3.53 (1.04–11.95)
Table 2b Any sexual abuse 2.64 (1.02–6.18)
Penetrative sexual abuse 2.76 (1.02–7.50)
Threats of hitting 3.60 (1.68–7.23)
Table 3PBI overprotection, father 1.07 (1.02–1.12)
TSCC depression 1.15 (1.06–1.26)
TSCC sexual anxiety 1.35 (1.14–1.61)
Table 5Looked for someone online to talk sex with 4.80 (1.66–13.88)
Been offended by crude sexual language when you chatted with a person you only knew
through the internet 5.12 (1.78–14.67)
Posted nude pictures (community/internet site) 5.05 (1.60–15.87)
Final model Penetrative sexual abuse 3.68 (1.58–8.58)
Threats of hitting 2.33 (1.04–5.24)
TSCC depression 1.11 (1.04–1.17)
Looked for someone online to talk sex with 6.52 (2.73–15.57)
Posted nude pictures (community) 4.74 (1.70–13.16)
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
Page 9 of 10
Jonssonetal. Child Adolesc Psychiatry Ment Health (2019) 13:32
and parental education had been adjusted for. It is,
however, important to bear in mind that the studies
referred to above do not examine if the motivation
factor for sending the images was, for example, send-
ing the image just for fun and with no negative con-
sequences afterwards or if it was because of coercion
leading to the taking and sending of the image.
Fourth, adolescents abused online also had more
online risk behaviors such as sharing personal infor-
mation significantly more often, looking for someone
online to talk sex with, or posting nude pictures on a
community site. These behaviors might increase the
risks of later being a victim of online sexual abuse [17].
The results in the study should be read in light of
the following limitations. The response rate was rather
low at 59.7%. Part of this can be explained by the fact
that on a typical day 10% of students of this age are
absent from school. An assumption is that the absent
group probably would have added some individuals
to the index group and thereby affected the results
slightly, since people dropping out from research more
often come from families with poorer support and are
more often burdened with psychosocial health issues
and lower motivation to participate in school surveys
[35]. On the other hand, other studies that have found
little evidence for substantial bias as a result of non-
participation [36]. Recall bias is always a limitation
in questionnaire-based studies, as is the question of
whether the answers are trustworthy. All answers were
reviewed before the analyses and 34 questionnaires
were excluded due to unserious answers. Another
limitation is the small size of the index group which
may cause low statistical power. The main concern
regarding study power arises when the index group
is separated into two groups. When comparing these
two groups to the reference group, statistical signifi-
cance is detected, even though the power is well below
80%. However, in all but one comparison between the
two subgroups (SA internet, SA offline and internet)
no statistical difference was detected. Having a larger
power would probably result in more statistically sig-
nificant findings. The implication of the low power is
that we underestimate rather than overestimate the
presence of actual differences between the groups.
Finally, the index question did not contribute to any
additional probing to determine what online sexual
activities or sexual abusive behaviors respondents
might be referring to when they endorsed these items,
nor did it allow them to describe the behavior further.
It would have been conceptually interesting to have a
fuller description and examples from respondents.
e socio-demographic background of the adolescent
victims of online sexual abuse in the current study did
not differ from the background of adolescents without
this experience, but significant differences were found
in relation to their prior experience of different forms
of abuse indicating that they belong to a polyvictim-
ized group. Together with risky online behavior, the
poorer psychological health in combination with poor
relationships with parents and low self-esteem might
increase the vulnerability of these individuals to having
sexual contact online and having that contact with peo-
ple unknown to them who might then abuse them. It is
also plausible to think that poorer health can be a con-
sequence of the abusive online experiences but also the
other way around since we can’t establish the causality
in this kind of cross-sectional study. e study demon-
strates the importance of viewing online sexual abuse
as a serious form of sexual abuse even if the victim and
perpetrator have not met outside the internet. Profes-
sionals meeting these children need not only to focus
on their psychological health as indicated by symp-
toms of trauma and depression but also must screen for
online behavior, online abuse and other forms of previ-
ous abuse.
The authors would like to thank the Swedish Ministry of Health and Social
Affairs, Children’s Welfare Foundation Sweden and the Swedbank Scientific
Research Foundation.
Authors’ contributions
All authors contributed in the design of the study and the data collection. LSJ
and CGS analysed the data and LSJ wrote the manuscript. CGS, CF, MW and GP
commented on the work. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
The study was funded by the Swedish Ministry of Health and Social Affairs and
the Swedbank Scientific Research Foundation.
Availability of data and materials
Not applicable.
Ethics approval and consent to participate
The study was approved by the Regional Ethical Review Board of Linköping,
Sweden (Dnr, 131-31). All participants consented to attend the study by
answering the questionnaire.
Consent for publication
All authors have given their consent for publication.
Competing interests
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Author details
1 Barnafrid, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Department of Clinical and Exper-
imental Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Linköping University, 581 83 Linköping,
Sweden. 2 Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Department of Clinical and Experi-
mental Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Linköping University, 581 85 Linköping,
Sweden. 3 Department of Psychology, Lund University, 221 00 Lund, Sweden.
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
Page 10 of 10
Jonssonetal. Child Adolesc Psychiatry Ment Health (2019) 13:32
Received: 11 April 2019 Accepted: 16 August 2019
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... Jonsson et al. [15] 2019 ...
... The current social networks are regularly misused to post or spread CSA messages, comments and chat conversation. Hence, the 24 research papers [9], [10], [11], [12], [13], [14], [15], [16], [17], [18], [19], [24], [25], [27], [28], [29], [30], [31], [32], [37], [38], [40], [41] and [43] proposed methods to detect, prevent and/or process CSAMs in text format. ...
... Research works in this category involve two expert domain areas: computer science and social sciences. Sociologists studied about: (1) CSAM offenders ( [11], [17]); (2) The effect of perceived informal social control on physical CSA ( [12]); (3) CSA prevention related to parents ( [14], [19]); (4) Association of CSA with culture, race/ethnicity, psychological health and/or risk behaviours ( [13], [15], [18]); (5) Consideration of 'slut pages' as a social form of CSA images ( [16]); (6) Correlation between the Greek Hotline reports and dark webs forum logs ( [24]); (7) How to support victims and identify places unsafe for children ( [37]); and (8) Dark web operation ( [43]). ...
Child sexual abuse inflicts lifelong devastating consequences for victims and is an ongoing social concern. In most countries, child sexual abuse material (CSAM) distribution is illegal. As a result, there are many research papers in the literature which proposed technologies to detect and investigate CSAM. In this survey, a comprehensive search of the peer-reviewed journal and conference paper databases (including preprints) is conducted to identify high-quality literature. We use the PRISMA methodology to refine our search space to 2,761 papers published by Springer, Elsevier, IEEE and ACM. After iterative reviews of title, abstract and full text for relevance to our topics, 43 papers are included for full review. Our paper provides a comprehensive synthesis of the tasks of the current research and how the papers use techniques and datasets to solve their tasks and evaluate their models. To the best of our knowledge, we are the first to focus exclusively on online CSAM detection and prevention with no geographic boundaries, and the first survey to review papers published after 2018. It can be used by researchers to identify gaps in knowledge and relevant publicly available datasets that may be useful for their research.
... Studies show that most online sexual contact is between peers, consensual and viewed as positive experiences (Jonsson et al., 2019;Livingstone & Smith, 2014). However, some children experience unwanted sexual contact, often by older people, where they feel coerced or pressured to do sexual things online. ...
... For unwanted sexual solicitation (defined as requests to engage in sexual activities or sexual talk or give personal sexual information that is unwanted or, whether wanted or not, made by an adult), studies have shown prevalence rates from 5% to 36% (see, for instance, Baumgartner et al., 2010;Jones et al., 2012;Jonsson et al., 2019). One recent meta-analysis found that one in nine young people had experience of unwanted sexual solicitation (Madigan et al., 2018), whereas Livingstone and Smith (2014) found in their review of risks of cyberbullying, contact with strangers, sexting and pornography that less than one in five young people had reported such experiences. ...
... On-and offline sexual abuse often coincide, and both risk factors and mental health consequences seem to overlap (Joleby et al., 2021). Jonsson et al. (2019), for instance, found that adolescent victims of online sexual abuse had also experienced more physical, psychological and offline sexual abuse than non-victims. Wolak and colleagues (2008) found that the group most vulnerable to online sexual abuse are high-risk young people with a prior history of sexual abuse. ...
Full-text available
There is growing public and expert concern that young people’s digital activities on the internet may worsen their mental health, although the research literature remains contested. This report investigates whether gaining digital skills makes a difference to improving young people’s wellbeing outcomes. As well as drawing on the burgeoning literature on youth digital skills, we were also able to learn from the perspectives of those with lived experience of diverse mental health difficulties. To discover whether young people develop distinctive skills because of the particular risks and opportunities they encounter online, we conducted in-depth interviews with 62 young people aged 12 to 22 in Norway and the UK with experience of mental health difficulties of varying severity, most of whom had received treatment in the recent past. The report asks three research questions: 1. What is the relevance of different dimensions of digital skills in the lives of young people experiencing mental health difficulties? 2. How do young people experience the role of digital skills in aiding or worsening their mental health difficulties, including their capacity to cope? 3. What recommendations can be drawn from young people’s experiences that may inform mental health professionals, schools, companies, regulators and the public to support young people’s digital lives? Although it had been expected that the differing cultures of childhood between Norway and the UK might have resulted in different digital skills and outcomes for young people growing up in these countries, their lives bear striking similarities.
Livestreaming of child sexual abuse (LSCSA) is an established form of online child sexual exploitation and abuse (OCSEA). However, only a limited body of research has examined this issue. The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated internet use and user knowledge of livestreaming services emphasizing the importance of understanding this crime. In this scoping review, existing literature was brought together through an iterative search of eight databases containing peer-reviewed journal articles, as well as grey literature. Records were eligible for inclusion if the primary focus was on livestream technology and OCSEA, the child being defined as eighteen years or younger. Fourteen of the 2,218 records were selected. The data were charted and divided into four categories: victims, offenders, legislation, and technology. Limited research, differences in terminology, study design, and population inclusion criteria present a challenge to drawing general conclusions on the current state of LSCSA. The records show that victims are predominantly female. The average livestream offender was found to be older than the average online child sexual abuse offender. Therefore, it is unclear whether the findings are representative of the global population of livestream offenders. Furthermore, there appears to be a gap in what the records show on platforms and payment services used and current digital trends. The lack of a legal definition and privacy considerations pose a challenge to investigation, detection, and prosecution. The available data allow some insights into a potentially much larger issue.
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ZET Bilgi ve iletişim teknolojilerinin gelişimi ile birlikte günlük yaşantının vazgeçilmezleri arasında yer alan internet, çocuklar için eğlence, iletişim, öğrenme ve eğitim kaynağı haline gelmiştir. Bu platformun ebeveyn kontrolü olmadan uygunsuz kullanımı çocuklarda ve gençlerde farklı sorunların ortaya çıkmasına zemin hazırlamaktadır. Çocuğa kötü muamele olarak tanımlanan çocuk istismarı çevrimiçi ortamlarda sık karşılaşılan bir sorundur. Çevrimiçi cinsel istismar hem insan haklarının hem de çocuk haklarının açık bir ihlalidir. Çocukların çevrimiçi ortamlarda denetimsiz ve uzun süre zaman geçirmeleri birçok risk faktörünü de beraberinde getirmektedir. Yanlış internet kullanımı; küçük yaşlarda şiddet, cinsellik gibi içeriklere maruz kalmak; internet bağımlılığı, oyun bağımlılığı, olumsuz kullanıcı davranışları, nefret söylemi, siber zorbalık gibi birçok olumsuz durumun gelişmesine neden olmaktadır. Çocukların çevrimiçi yollarla cinsel istismara maruz kalması, depresyon, kaygı, düşük benlik saygısı, madde kullanımı, kendine zarar verme vb. davranışlarla ilişkilidir. Çocukların sanal platformları uygunsuz kullanmaları sonucu, failler yeni stratejiler geliştirmektedir. Böylelikle çocukların çevrimiçi yollarla cinsel istismara maruz kalma riski artmaktadır. Bu derlemenin amacı çevrimiçi çocuk istismarının yaygınlığı, mağdur ve fail açısından risk faktörlerine yönelik bilgi vermek ve ruh sağlığı çalışanlarına yönelik farkındalık oluşturmaktır. ABSTRACT With the development of information and communication technologies, the internet, which is among the indispensables of daily life, has become a source of entertainment, communication, learning and education for children. Nappropriate use of this platform without parental control paves the way for different problems in children and young people. Child abuse, defined as child maltreatment, is a common problem in online environments. Online sexual abuse is a clear violation of both human rights and children's rights in general. The fact that children spend unsupervised and long time in online environments brings with it many risk factors. Incorrect internet use; being exposed to content such as violence and sexuality at a young age; It causes the development of many negative situations such as internet addiction, game addiction, negative user behaviors, hate speech, and cyber bullying. Exposure of children to sexual abuse through online means, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, substance use, self-harm, etc. associated with behavior. As a result of children's inappropriate use of virtual platforms, perpetrators develop new strategies. Thus, the risk of children being exposed to sexual abuse online increases. The purpose of this review is to provide information on the prevalence of online child abuse, risk factors for victims and perpetrators, and to raise awareness for mental health professional.
The proliferation of digital technology within the lives of children and young people (CYP) provides arguably one of the most significant clinical and ethical paradigm shifts in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. One can argue that mental health research has taken a myopic approach to understanding the interaction between young people’s technology use and their mental health. Mental health clinicians also need a better understanding of the digital lives of CYP and how technology may be supporting or harming their mental health. Within this paper, we argue that greater longitudinal research is required, particularly in vulnerable groups, and that there is an essential need for a standardised digital use assessment (DUA) tool, which assimilates CYP use of technology and their vulnerabilities/resilience to online risks. We subsequently offer a series of questions clinicians can use to explore technology use by CYP. Such an aide memoire may empower clinicians to have wider discussions around digital technology use with CYP, while also helping to develop appropriate safety and management plans.
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This study identifies the most effective child safety by design measures that can be taken to prevent harm to children online. Protecting children while still enabling their access to, and participation in the online environment is a challenge. In this report, the Down to Zero Alliance’s Building Back Better programme provides a clear path through the complexity. Informed by a systematic review of literature, an international panel of 20 senior online safety experts, and focus group discussions with 141 children (aged 11 to 16) in ten countries, a set of concrete safety by design solutions are posed to those with the power to bring about change.
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Human rights, as well as the institutions that sustain them, from childhood to old age, are based on the intrinsic dignity of every person. The modern theory of human rights affirms this dignity as its origin, purpose, legitimacy, and key for its interpretation. However, this foundation is blurred in the national and international instruments for the protection of childhood. Dignity is not included in a general and major way, being replaced by related and comparable concepts. This contribution seeks to address the place that the dignity of the child and the minor occupies in the treaties dedicated to childhood and, to what extent, its absence or substitution has implications for their human rights. To achieve this, firstly, the term dignity in international treaties and political texts is going to be analysed. Secondly, other main concept – “the best interest of the child” – is going to be considered. Finally, the deficiencies and difficulties that the current situation may entail for the protection of human rights during childhood is going to be addressed.
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Ensuring access to justice and improving social inclusion are universally acknowledged global priorities, at the core of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The European Union places access to justice a prerequisite for States wishing to join the EU. Therefore, it is essential for Serbia, as a country aspiring for EU accession, to identify the barriers and difficulties experienced by citizens and especially vulnerable groups in accessing justice and upholding their rights, to ensure the full implementation and effective enforcement of national and international laws and meet the requirements for EU accession. From a rights- based perspective, access to justice is often seen as a gateway to the enjoyment and protection of other fundamental human rights and promotes social inclusion, while barriers to access to justice reinforce poverty and exclusion. Moreover, inability to resolve legal problems may diminish access to economic opportunity, reinforce the poverty trap, and undermine human potential including ability to enforce own economic and social rights, including property and labour rights.1 Therefore, the focus on access to justice and the protection of the law is deliberate as it transcends sectors and can provide much needed protection to vulnerable groups and also facilitate more inclusive access in the respective sectors. The 2021 Regional Justice Survey for Serbia revealed that most citizens believe that the judicial system does not treat all equally and that some forms of discrimination exist. The author analysis the barriers to access to justice in Serbia and grounds for discrimination of citizens in the judicial system. The author elaborates practice of the European Court of Human Rights and EU Court of Justice and their interpretation of the violation of access to justice right.
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The aim of this study is to contribute knowledge about Swedish school girls’ perspectives of sexual harassment and their relations to peers when exposed to violence in terms of sexual harassment, both online and offline. The empirical data was collected through pair interviews where 28 girls participated. The theoretical framework was based on coping strategies that people use when facing stressful situations. The transcribed empirical data was read and interpreted based on what appeared to be important and decisive related to the theoretical framework. The found strategies are divided into three main categories, namely, problem-focused behavioural strategies, emotion-focused cognitive strategies, and emotion-focused behavioural strategies. The results show that the girls use different strategies depending on if the harassment occurs online or offline and if the perpetrator is known or unknown. Problem-focused cognitive strategies are used due to the specific context. Emotion-focused cognitive strategies are foremost used if the perpetrator is a known friend.
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Research report.
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Sexting - that is, the private exchange of self-produced sexual images via cell phone or the internet - has been widely discussed in public and academic discourses as a new high-risk behavior among youths (especially girls) that should be prevented through better education about the various and severe risks it poses. This paper summarizes existing data on sexting prevalence (17 studies), which reveal that sexting is much more common among adults than among youths, with increasing prevalence among adolescents as they grow older. The paper then looks at the current state of sexting research by reviewing all 50 sexting papers in the PsycINFO and PubMed databases published between 2009 and 2013 regarding their coverage of the risks and/or opportunities associated with sexting. Most of the papers (79%) address adolescent sexting as risky behavior and link it to sexual objectification and violence, to risky sexual behavior, and to negative consequences like bullying by peers and criminal prosecution under child pornography laws. In opposition to this deviance discourse, a normalcy discourse is appearing in the literature that interprets sexting as normal intimate communication within romantic and sexual relationships, both among adults and adolescents who are exploring and growing into adult relationships. Next, the paper analyzes the sexting risk prevention messages of 10 online educational campaigns. Such campaigns typically rely on scare scenarios, emphasize the risk of bullying and criminal prosecution, engage in female victim blaming, and recommend complete abstinence from sexting. The paper closes by questioning the abstinence approach in sexting education, and makes suggestions on how to move towards an evidence-based approach to sexting risk prevention that acknowledges both adolescents' vulnerability and sexual agency. © 2008 Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace.
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This review explores risk factors that may make a young person vulnerable to being groomed online. Even though research in this area is extremely limited, adolescents appear to be the age group most vulnerable to online grooming. Other vulnerabilities appear to be consistent with those associated with offline sexual abuse. The review suggests that behaviors specific to online grooming include: engaging in risk taking behavior online, high levels of internet access, and lack of parental involvement in the young person's internet use. Vulnerabilities to carry out these types of behavior and be more exposed to the risk of online grooming, are set within the context of the Ecological Model of child protection, consisting of: individual, family, community, and cultural risk factors. Patterns of vulnerability regarding living environment, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and personality are tentative, but are often interconnected. The more risk taking behaviors the young person carries out, plus greater levels of vulnerability factors, the less resilient they are likely to be towards protecting themselves against online grooming. A protective factor appears to be parental involvement in their child's use of the internet. Therefore, this, in combination with internet safety education at school, is encouraged.
Despite increasing public interest and concern about young people's involvement in the self-production of sexual images (or 'sexting'), there remains a dearth of research into their reasons for making and sending images, the processes involved, and the consequences arising from their experiences. This article reviews the motivational, lifestyle and personality factors influencing adolescent sexting practices and explores the research evidence within the wider context of debates around contemporary social and visual media cultures and gender. A systematic search of databases was conducted and eighty-eight records were identified for inclusion in the review. The findings reveal that sexting is remarkably varied in terms of context, meaning and intention, with the potential for consensual and non-consensual aspects of the activity. Whilst sexting can be a means of flirting or enhancing a sexual relationship, it can highlight potential vulnerabilities to victimisation or to participation in risky sexual practices. Sexting is also inextricably linked to social expectations of gendered sexual behaviours, with females often deriving less satisfaction from their experiences and being perceived more negatively by their peers. Further research linking adolescent motivations, well-being, relationships and lifestyles with the broader socio-cultural and media landscape will ultimately help drive understanding about the subject forward.
Sexting has received considerable media attention in recent years. Several tragic cases have highlighted the far-reaching consequences that sexting can have. The objective of this article is, therefore, to inform teachers and counselors about current research on sexting in order to help them understand the various facets of this behavior, as well as the reasons why adolescents engage in it and how it correlates with other risk behaviors. The discussion also addresses ways in which schools can respond to and prevent sexting incidents.
Studies have described the phenomenon of voluntary sexual exposure among youth online but only a few focus on the typical young person who has this experience. The purpose of this study was to investigate Swedish youth with experience of voluntary sexual exposure online, with regard to Internet behavior, social background, and psychosocial health including parent-child relationships. A representative sample of 3503 Swedish youths in their third year of high school completed a survey about Internet behavior, Internet-related sexual harassment, sexuality, health, and sexual abuse. Out of those taking part in the survey, 20.9% (19.2% boys and 22.3% girls) reported experiences of voluntary sexual exposure online. Multivariate analysis showed a significant association between voluntary sexual exposure online and a number of different forms of harassment online. Neither poorer psychosocial health nor problematic relationships with parents remained significant in the final model. The results underlined the fact that voluntary sexual exposure online is associated with vulnerability on the Internet among both boys and girls and that there is a need for parents and professionals to better understand what young people do on the Internet and the risks they may incur.
Aims and scope: The usage of mobile phones and the internet by young people has increased rapidly in the past decade, approaching saturation by middle childhood in developed countries. Besides many benefits, online content, contact or conduct can be associated with risk of harm; most research has examined whether aggressive or sexual harms result from this. We examine the nature and prevalence of such risks, and evaluate the evidence regarding the factors that increase or protect against harm resulting from such risks, so as to inform the academic and practitioner knowledge base. We also identify the conceptual and methodological challenges encountered in this relatively new body of research, and highlight the pressing research gaps. Methods: Given the pace of change in the market for communication technologies, we review research published since 2008. Following a thorough bibliographic search of literature from the key disciplines (psychology, sociology, education, media studies and computing sciences), the review concentrates on recent, high quality empirical studies, contextualizing these within an overview of the field. Findings: Risks of cyberbullying, contact with strangers, sexual messaging ('sexting') and pornography generally affect fewer than one in five adolescents. Prevalence estimates vary according to definition and measurement, but do not appear to be rising substantially with increasing access to mobile and online technologies, possibly because these technologies pose no additional risk to offline behaviour, or because any risks are offset by a commensurate growth in safety awareness and initiatives. While not all online risks result in self-reported harm, a range of adverse emotional and psychosocial consequences is revealed by longitudinal studies. Useful for identifying which children are more vulnerable than others, evidence reveals several risk factors: personality factors (sensation-seeking, low self-esteem, psychological difficulties), social factors (lack of parental support, peer norms) and digital factors (online practices, digital skills, specific online sites). Conclusions: Mobile and online risks are increasingly intertwined with pre-existing (offline) risks in children's lives. Research gaps, as well as implications for practitioners, are identified. The challenge is now to examine the relations among different risks, and to build on the risk and protective factors identified to design effective interventions.
The current study examines whether adolescents who report sexting exhibit more psychosocial health problems, compared to their non-sexting counterparts. Participants included 937 ethnically diverse male and female adolescents recruited and assessed from multiple high schools in southeast Texas. Measures included self-report of sexting, impulsivity, alcohol and drug use, and depression and anxiety symptoms. Teen sexting was significantly associated with symptoms of depression, impulsivity, and substance use. When adjusted for prior sexual behavior, age, gender, race/ethnicity, and parent education, sexting was only related to impulsivity and substance use. While teen sexting appears to correlate with impulsive and high-risk behaviors (substance use), we did not find sexting to be a marker of mental health.
Although many studies have reported on internalising and externalising problems related to cyberbullying roles, there is a lack of longitudinal research in this area. This study reports (1) cross-sectional data from 412 German middle-school students to examine differences between cyberbullies, cybervictims and cyberbully–victims compared to non-involved students in regard to internalising (depressiveness and loneliness) and externalising (instrumental and reactive aggression) problems; and (2) longitudinal data from 223 students about links of cyberbullying and cybervictimisation with internalising and externalising problems across two measurement occasions, analysed using path analysis (separately by gender). Self-report measures were used. The results revealed no significant differences between groups in internalising problems, but all three cyberbullying groups differed significantly from the non-involved group in externalising problems. Female victims showed increases in externalising problems while male victims did not show changes across time in either internalising or externalising problems. Male bullies reported decreases in internalising problems across time. For boys, scoring high in both cyberbullying and cybervictimisation led to increases in loneliness, while for girls this predicted decreases in reactive aggression.