Exposure to pornography in general has been linked with adolescent dating violence and sexual aggression, but less is known about exposure to violent pornography specifically. The current study examined the association of violent pornography exposure with different forms of teen dating violence (TDV) using baseline survey data from a sample of Grade 10 high school students who reported being in a dating relationship in the past year (n = 1694). Gender-stratified logistic regression models generated odds ratios adjusted for demographics, substance use, history of suspension/expulsion, gender equitable attitudes, and tolerance of rape myths to identify significant associations between violent pornography exposure and self-reported physical, sexual, and threatening TDV perpetration and victimization. Violent pornography exposure was associated with all types of TDV, though patterns differed by gender. Boys exposed to violent pornography were 2–3 times more likely to report sexual TDV perpetration and victimization and physical TDV victimization, while girls exposed to violent pornography were over 1.5 times more likely to be perpetrate threatening TDV compared to their non-exposed counterparts. Comprehensive prevention strategies for TDV may consider the potential risks associated with exposure to violent pornography, particularly for boys, and provide an alternative source of education about healthy sexual behavior and relationships.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Baer, J. L., Kohut, T., & Fisher, W. A. (2015). Is pornography use associated with anti-woman sexual aggression? Re-examining the confluence model with third variable considerations. Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 24(2), 160–173. https://doi.org/10.3138/cjhs.242-A6.
Boeringer, S. B., Shehan, C. L., & Akers, R. L. (1991). Social contexts and social learning in sexual coercion and aggression: Assessing the contribution of fraternity membership. Family Relations, 40, 58–64.
Bridges, A. J., Wosnitzer, R., Scharrer, E., Sun, C., & Liberman, R. (2010). Aggression and sexual behavior in best-selling pornography videos: A content analysis update. Violence Against Women, 16(10), 1065–1085. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077801210382866.
Brown, J. D., & L’Engle, K. L. (2009). X-rated: Sexual attitudes and behaviors associated with U.S. early adolescents’ exposure to sexually explicit media. Communication Research, 36(1), 129–151. https://doi.org/10.1177/0093650208326465.
D’Amato, A. (2006). Porn up, rape down. Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper Series. Retrieved October 3, 2017 from http://anthonydamato.law.northwestern.edu/Adobefiles/porn.pdf.
Dekeseredy, W. S. (2015). Patriarchy.com: Adult internet pornography and the abuse of women. In C. M. Renzetti & R. Kennedy Bergen (Eds.), Understanding diversity: Celebrating difference, challenging inequality (pp. 186–199). Boston, MA: Pearson.
Ferguson, C. J., & Hartley, R. D. (2009). The pleasure is momentary…the expense damnable? The influence of pornography on rape and sexual assault. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 14(5), 323–329. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.avb.2009.04.008.
Foshee, V. A., Linder, F., MacDougall, J. E., & Bangdiwala, S. (2001). Gender differences in the longitudinal predictors of adolescent dating violence. Preventive Medicine, 32(2), 128–141. https://doi.org/10.1006/pmed.2000.0793.
Haynie, D. L., Farhat, T., Brooks-Russell, A., Wang, J., Barbieri, B., & Iannotti, R. J. (2013). Dating violence perpetration and victimization among U.S. adolescents: Prevalence, patterns, and associations with health complaints and substance use. Journal of Adolescent Health, 53(2), 194–201. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.02.008.
IBM Corp. Released 2017. IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows, Version 25.0. Armonk, NY: IBM Corp.
Jessor, R., & Jessor, S. L. (1977). Problem behavior and psychosocial development. New York, NY: Academic Press.
Kann, L., McManus, T., Harris, W. A., Shanklin, S. L., Flint, K. H., Hawkins, J., & Zaza, S. (2016). Youth risk behavior surveillance—United States, 2015. MMWR Surveillance Summary, 65(6), 1–174. https://doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.ss6506a1.
Lim, M. S., Carrotte, E. R., & Hellard, M. E. (2016). The impact of pornography on gender- based violence, sexual health and well-being: What do we know? Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 70(1), 3–5. https://doi.org/10.1136/jech-2015-205453.
Malamuth, N. M., Addison, T., & Koss, M. (2000). Pornography and sexual aggression: Are there reliable effects and can we understand them? Annual Review of Sex Research, 11, 26–91.
Miller, E., Tancredi, D. J., McCauley, H. L., Decker, M. R., Virata, M. C. D., Anderson, H. A., & Silverman, J. G. (2012). “Coaching boys into men”: A cluster-randomized controlled trial of a dating violence prevention program. Journal of Adolescent Health, 51(5), 431–438. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.01.018.
Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (1998–2017). Mplus user’s guide (Version 8). Los Angeles, CA: Muthén & Muthén.
Niolon, P. H., Kearns, M., Dills, J., Rambo, K., Irving, S., Armstead, T., & Gilbert, L. (2017). Eliminating intimate partner violence across the lifespan: A technical package to prevent intimate partner violence, including teen dating violence. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
O’Leary, K. D., & Smith Slep, A. M. (2003). A dyadic longitudinal model of adolescent dating aggression. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 32(3), 314–327. https://doi.org/10.1207/S15374424JCCP3203_01.
Parker, E. M., Debnam, K., Pas, E. T., & Bradshaw, C. P. (2016). Exploring the link between alcohol and marijuana use and teen dating violence victimization among high school students: The influence of school context. Health Education & Behavior, 43(5), 528–536. https://doi.org/10.1177/1090198115605308.
Payne, D. L., Lonsway, K. A., & Fitzgerald, L. F. (1999). Rape myth acceptance: Exploration of its structure and its measurement using the Illinois Rape Myth Acceptance Scale. Journal of Research in Personality, 33(1), 27–68. https://doi.org/10.1006/jrpe.1998.2238.
Peter, J., & Valkenburg, P. M. (2016). Adolescents and pornography: A review of 20 years of research. Journal of Sex Research, 53(4–5), 509–531. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2016.1143441.
Pulerwitz, J., & Barker, G. (2008). Measuring attitudes toward gender norms among young men in Brazil. Men and Masculinities, 10(3), 322–338. https://doi.org/10.1177/1097184x06298778.
Reyes, H. L., & Foshee, V. A. (2013). Sexual dating aggression across grades 8 through 12: Timing and predictors of onset. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 42(4), 581–595. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-012-9864-6.
Rodenhizer, K. A. E., & Edwards, K. M. (2017). The Impacts of sexual media exposure on adolescent and emerging adults’ dating and sexual violence attitudes and behaviors: A critical review of the literature. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse. https://doi.org/10.1177/1524838017717745.
Romito, P., & Beltramini, L. (2015). Factors associated with exposure to violent or degrading pornography among high school students. Journal of School Nursing, 31(4), 280–290. https://doi.org/10.1177/1059840514563313.
Rothman, E. F., & Adhia, A. (2016). Adolescent pornography use and dating violence among a sample of primarily Black and Hispanic, urban-residing, underage youth. Behavioral Sciences, 6(1), 1. https://doi.org/10.3390/bs6010001.
Rothman, E. F., Johnson, R. M., Azrael, D., Hall, D. M., & Weinberg, J. (2010). Perpetration of physical assault against dating partners, peers, and siblings among a locally representative sample of high school students in Boston, Massachusetts. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 164(12), 1118–1124. https://doi.org/10.1001/archpediatrics.2010.229.
Rothman, E. F., McNaughton Reyes, L., Johnson, R. M., & LaValley, M. (2012a). Does the alcohol make them do it? Dating violence perpetration and drinking among youth. Epidemiological Reviews, 34, 103–119. https://doi.org/10.1093/epirev/mxr027.
Rothman, E. F., Stuart, G. L., Winter, M., Wang, N., Bowen, D. J., Bernstein, J., & Vinci, R. (2012b). Youth alcohol use and dating abuse victimization and perpetration: A test of the relationships at the daily level in a sample of pediatric emergency department patients who use alcohol. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 27(15), 2959–2979. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260512441076.
Sabina, C., Wolak, J., & Finkelhor, D. (2008). The nature and dynamics of internet pornography exposure for youth. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 11(6), 691–693. https://doi.org/10.1089/cpb.2007.0179.
Shor, E., & Seida, K. (2019). “Harder and harder”? Is mainstream pornography becoming increasingly violent and do viewers prefer violent content? Journal of Sex Research, 56, 16–28. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2018.1451476.
Swahn, M. H., Alemdar, M., & Whitaker, D. J. (2010). Nonreciprocal and reciprocal dating violence and injury occurrence among urban youth. Western Journal of Emerging Medicine, 11(3), 264–268.
Temple, J. R., Shorey, R. C., Fite, P., Stuart, G. L., & Le, V. D. (2013). Substance use as a longitudinal predictor of the perpetration of teen dating violence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 42(4), 596–606. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-012-9877-1.
Watson, M. A., & Smith, R. D. (2012). Positive porn: Educational, medical, and clinical uses. American Journal of Sexuality Education, 7(2), 122–145. https://doi.org/10.1080/15546128.2012.680861.
Williams, T. S., Connolly, J., Pepler, D., Craig, W., & Laporte, L. (2008). Risk models of dating aggression across different adolescent relationships: A developmental psychopathology approach. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 76(4), 622–632. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-006X.76.4.622.
Wolfe, D. A., Scott, K., Reitzel-Jaffe, D., Wekerle, C., Grasley, C., & Straatman, A. L. (2001). Development and validation of the Conflict in Adolescent Dating Relationships Inventory. Psychological Assessment, 13(2), 277–293.
Wright, P. J. (2011). Mass media effects on youth sexual behavior: Assessing the claim for causality. Communication Yearbook, 35, 343–386.
Wright, P. J., Tokunaga, R. S., & Kraus, A. (2016). A meta-analysis of pornography consumption and actual acts of sexual aggression in general population studies. Journal of Communication, 66(1), 183–205. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcom.12201.
Ybarra, M. L., Espelage, D. L., Langhinrichsen-Rohling, J., Korchmaros, J. D., & Boyd, D. (2016). Lifetime prevalence rates and overlap of physical, psychological, and sexual dating abuse perpetration and victimization in a national sample of youth. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 45(5), 1083–1099. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-016-0748-9.
Ybarra, M. L., Mitchell, K. J., Hamburger, M., Diener-West, M., & Leaf, P. J. (2011). X-rated material and perpetration of sexually aggressive behavior among children and adolescents: Is there a link? Aggressive Behavior, 37(1), 1–18. https://doi.org/10.1002/ab.20367.
Funding was provided by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Grant No. U01-CE002531).
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
About this article
Cite this article
Rostad, W.L., Gittins-Stone, D., Huntington, C. et al. The Association Between Exposure to Violent Pornography and Teen Dating Violence in Grade 10 High School Students. Arch Sex Behav 48, 2137–2147 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-019-1435-4
- Teen dating violence
- Risk factors
- Violence prevention