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Online Sexual Victimisation in Youth : Predictors and Cross-Sectional Associations with Depressive Symptoms

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Publication Details

Author list: Zetterström Dahlqvist, Heléne

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Publication year: 2018

ISSN: 1101-1262

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/cky102


Abstract

Aim

The aim was to analyze (i) the prevalence of online unwanted sexual solicitation (USS) victimization, (ii) predictors of online USS and (iii) the associations between online USS and depressive symptoms in Swedish pupils in grades 7–9.

Methods

An electronic questionnaire was disseminated in 2011 in schools in a municipality in the northern part of Sweden. Total n = 1193 (boys n = 566; girls n= 627). Logistic regression models were fitted to test the cross-sectional associations between predictors of online USS and depressive symptoms, respectively.

Results

One third of girls and every fifth boy reported online USS victimization. In boys, predictors associated with online USS were offline bullying and sexual harassment victimization. Only offline sexual harassment victimization was associated with online USS in girls. Girls victimized by online USS had about twice the likelihood to report depressive symptoms compared to non-victimized girls. There were no associations between online USS and depressive symptoms in boys. While offline bullying was associated with depressive symptoms in both genders, offline sexual harassment victimization increased the likelihood to report depressive symptoms in girls only.

Conclusions

Online USS was common among Swedish youth, particularly among girls. Schools, parents and internet safety educators should look at co-occurrence of different forms of victimization as offline victimization was a predictor of online USS. Online USS was associated with depressive symptoms in girls and may hence be a factor driving gender inequity in mental health in youth.


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