Teens in relationships may be susceptible to being digitally abused by their boyfriends or girlfriends, according to a new study by the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center.
The report examines the role technology plays in teen dating abuse and how abusers use tech -- from social media to email and text -- to intimidate, coerce and harass their partners.
The study found 26 percent of teens in a romantic relationship said their partners had digitally abused them during the previous year. The findings, published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, are based on a survey of 5,647 dating middle-school and high-school students.
“Abusers use technology to stalk their partners, send them degrading messages, embarrass them publicly, and pressure them for sex or sexually explicit photos,” researcher Meredith Dank said.
The study found that girls in a relationship are digitally victimized more often than boys, especially when the abuse is sexual. Overall, girls in relationships report being victims of digital abuse more frequently than boys: 29 and 23 percent, respectively. This divide widens when the reported abuse involves sexual behavior. Approximately 15 percent of girls report sexual digital abuse, compared with 7 percent of boys. The gap narrows when the reported digital abuse is not sexual: 23 percent of girls compared with 21 percent of boys.
Further, tampering with a partner’s social media account is the most prevalent form of digital abuse. More than one in twelve teens in a relationship (8.7 percent) say their partner used their social networking account without their permission.
Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch