Teen Sexting Linked to Intimate Partner Violence, Sexual Abuse

The researchers analyzed 588 boys and girls aged 14 to 17 years living in a high-poverty community.
The researchers analyzed 588 boys and girls aged 14 to 17 years living in a high-poverty community.

HealthDay News — Teen sexting is associated with sexual abuse, with higher victimization in girls and intimate partner violence perpetration in boys, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, held from May 5 to 8 in Toronto.

Kanani E. Titchen, MD, from the Children's Hospital at Montefiore in New York City, and colleagues examined the correlation of sexting with sexual abuse, intimate partner violence (IPV), drug use, and arrest among 588 boys and girls aged 14 to 17 years living in a high-poverty community. Data from 555 participants were included in the analysis. 

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The researchers found that 20 and 24% of boys and girls had sent a sext, 45 and 44% had ever had sex, 25 and 28% had used marijuana in the past year, and 6 and 10% had reported IPV perpetration, respectively. Compared with boys, girls were more likely to have been sexually abused, been a victim of IPV, and have moderate/severe depressive symptoms. Compared with girls, boys were more likely to have been arrested. Independent correlations for having sent a sext were seen for having been sexually abused, IPV perpetration, ever had sex, ever arrested, used marijuana in past year, older age, and "other race/ethnicity" for boys. For girls, independent correlations were seen for having been sexually abused, IPV victimization, and ever had sex.

"These findings suggest that teen sexting may be part of a continuum of exploitative sexual experience," the authors write.

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