Survey shows many vulnerable teens engage in sexting, are solicited online and meet in person with someone they first met online
Many suspected victims of child sexual abuse are sharing sexually explicit photos and videos via their cell phones and social media, and are receiving online sexual solicitations, according to a study presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in San Diego.
Previous research has shown that youths with a history of sexual victimization may be at increased risk for online sexual solicitations, leading to revictimization.
Researchers, led by Corey Rood, MD, sought to describe the prevalence of "sexting" (sending or receiving sexually suggestive messages or nude or nearly nude photos or videos), online sexual solicitations, and offline, in-person meetings with people first met online among adolescents seen for suspected sexual abuse/assault.
Study participants were recruited from youths ages 12-17 years who were evaluated at the Child Advocacy Center at Nationwide Children's Hospital for suspected child sexual abuse or acute sexual assault from May 1, 2014, to Feb. 1, 2015. Youths in Child Protective Services custody, those with severe developmental delay or gross motor impairment, and those who did not speak English were excluded.
One hundred and fifty teens completed an anonymous computerized survey that included 40 questions asking about their experiences with sending or receiving nude or nearly nude photos or videos via cell phone, sexually suggestive text-only messaging, online sexual solicitations and offline first-time meetings with people met online.
Of the 16 possible experiences asked about in the survey, less than a quarter of teens replied that they had been exposed to none of them. "Incredibly, 39 percent have experienced five or more, and 18 percent have experienced 10 or more exposures," said Dr. Rood, child abuse pediatrics fellow, Center for Family Safety and Healing, Nationwide Children's Hospital.
Results also showed:
- About 10 percent of those younger than 14 years, and 28 percent of those age 14 and older have sent a sext picture or video of themselves.
- Nearly 23 percent of those under age 14, and 57 percent of those age 14 and older have received a sext picture or video of another person.
- About 11 percent of those under age 14, and 47 percent of those age 14 and older have been solicited online for personal sexual information.
- About 24 percent of those under age 14, and 55 percent of those 14 and older have been solicited online to do a sexual act.
The above results were similar for males and females and across races and ethnicities.
In addition, more than 43 percent of all teens surveyed met someone younger than age 18 in person after meeting them online, and 24 percent met with someone age 18 or older.
"Adolescents with a history of offline sexual victimization may demonstrate increased sexting activity and be at increased risk of online sexual solicitations making them vulnerable to revictimization," Dr. Rood said. "It is imperative that we understand these electronic activities in this population as they may warrant unique prevention and intervention strategies."
Dr. Rood presented: [4540.8]
Prevalence of Sexting, Online Solicitations, and Offline Meetings Among Adolescents With Suspected Sexual Abuse
Corey J. Rood, Jonathan Thackeray, Elise Berlan, Megan Letson, Kristin Garton, Mary R. Leder. Child Abuse Pediatrics, Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, OH.
BACKGROUND: It's estimated that
OBJECTIVE: To describe the prevalence of cell phone sexting (sending or receiving sexually suggestive messages or nude or nearly nude photos or videos), online sexting (same via social networking sites, instant messaging, or emails), online sexual solicitations, and offline, in-person, contact with someone first met online in adolescents seen for suspected sexual abuse in the CAC.
DESIGN/METHODS: This is a descriptive study of patients aged 12-17 years who presented to the CAC for evaluation of suspected sexual abuse. Participants anonymously answered an online survey looking at 18 behaviors. Statistically significant associations were determined using Chi-square analysis.
RESULTS: 100 participants have been enrolled. 74% of participants have had at least one problematic technology-facilitated experience, and 50% have experienced at least five. 57% of CAC youth have been asked to send a nude or nearly nude photo or video of themselves to another person, 21% have sent such an image, 42% have received such an image, and 10% have posted online such an image of themselves. Half have received a sexually suggestive text-only message. 98% of participants report having a personal account on at least one social networking site. Nearly 33% have had personal sexual information solicited while online, and 43% were solicited to do a sexual act. Over 43% met someone
CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests sexting, online sexual solicitations, and offline first-time meetings are highly prevalent among youth evaluated for suspected sexual abuse, with a significantly higher prevalence in youth ≥14 years. The frequency of engaging in these behaviors is considerably higher than recent studies published of the general U.S. adolescent population.
First Author is a Fellow in Training E-PAS2015:4540.8
Session: Platform: Child Abuse & Neglect (9:45 AM - 11:45 AM)
Course Code: 4540