Many Teens Suffer Cyber Dating Abuse

Jim Liebelt | Senior Editor of Publications for HomeWord | Monday, December 01, 2014

Many Teens Suffer Cyber Dating Abuse

*The following is excerpted from an online article from U. S. News & World Report.

Many teens are abused online by the people they're dating, a new study suggests.

This abuse can include being monitored, stalked, threatened and harassed through hurtful comments, the researchers said.

The findings were based on surveys of teens who visited northern California school health clinics, and don't hint at how common this kind of abuse among teens is overall.

"These numbers clearly show that 'cyber dating abuse' is common," said study author Rebecca Dick, a clinical research coordinator of the Center for Adolescent and Young Adult Health at the University of Pittsburgh.

The researchers launched their study to better understand the frequency of cyber dating abuse in teens and its implications. Evidence has already shown that cyber dating abuse is linked to physical, sexual and psychological abuse, Dick said.

The study authors surveyed slightly more than 1,000 teens aged 14 to 19 who visited on-campus health clinics from 2012 to 2013 in search of care for issues such as sexually transmitted diseases, birth control and annual checkups. The schools were located in urban and suburban areas, and 95 percent of the participants were not white.

More than 40 percent of the teens said they'd experienced cyber dating abuse within the past three months: 45 percent of females and 31 percent of males. The numbers were highest among non-whites (between 37 percent and 44 percent), those dating more than one person (61 percent), and bisexuals (56 percent).

The most common types of abuse were stalking (repeatedly contacting a person to ask what he or she was doing or whom he or she was with) and making mean and hurtful comments. Eight percent said they received threatening or aggressive comments, the investigators found.

"We found that teens exposed to cyber dating abuse were more likely to also experience other forms of physical and sexual dating abuse like being hit, pushed, slapped, choked or otherwise physically hurt by a dating partner," Dick said.

She cautioned that this group of students doesn't represent teens as a whole. "These are teens that are seeking health care, which we know is a group of youth who tend to have riskier health behaviors," she explained.

Source: U.S. News & World Report