The Rate of Cyber Dating Abuse Among Teens and How It Relates to Other Forms of Teen Dating Violence

Abstract

To date, little research has documented how teens might misuse technology to harass, control, and abuse their dating partners. This study examined the extent of cyber dating abuse—abuse via technology and new media—in youth relationships and how it relates to other forms of teen dating violence. A total of 5,647 youth from ten schools in three northeastern states participated in the survey, of which 3,745 reported currently being in a dating relationship or having been in one during the prior year (52 % were female; 74 % White). Just over a quarter of youth in a current or recent relationship said that they experienced some form of cyber dating abuse victimization in the prior year, with females reporting more cyber dating abuse victimization than males (particularly sexual cyber dating abuse). One out of ten youth said that they had perpetrated cyber dating abuse, with females reporting greater levels of non-sexual cyber dating abuse perpetration than males; by contrast, male youth were significantly more likely to report perpetrating sexual cyber dating abuse. Victims of sexual cyber dating abuse were seven times more likely to have also experienced sexual coercion (55 vs. 8 %) than were non-victims, and perpetrators of sexual cyber dating abuse were 17 times more likely to have also perpetrated sexual coercion (34 vs. 2 %) than were non-perpetrators. Implications for practice and future research are discussed.

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Acknowledgments

This project was supported by Award No. 2010-WG-BX-003, awarded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions and recommendations expressed in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice, or of the Urban Institute, its trustees, or its funders. Elements of this paper were reported to the National Institute of Justice in the form of a final technical report as per grant obligations. The authors would like to thank: (1) the administrators, faculty, and staff of schools who assisted us in collecting the data documented in this report, (2) CJ Pascoe of Colorado College and Cindy Southworth, Erica Olsen, and Sarah Tucker of the National Network to End Domestic Violence for their input on survey measures, and (3) the National Institute of Justice and Dr. Nancy La Vigne, Director of the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center, for their careful review of project findings.

Author contributions

JZ is co-Principal Investigator of the study and helped guide substantive decisions regarding survey development, measurement development, conceptualization of the research questions, and direction of research. She is primary author of the manuscript, drafting the literature review, methods, and portions of the discussion. MD is co-Principal Investigator of the study and helped guide substantive decisions regarding survey development, measurement development, conceptualization of the research questions, and direction of research. She also drafted portions of the discussion. JY participated in conceptualization of measures, research questions, and direction of analyses. She drafted portions of the results section. PL participated in conceptualization of measures, research questions, and direction of analyses. She conducted analyses and drafted portions of the results section. All authors read and approved the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Janine M. Zweig.

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Zweig, J.M., Dank, M., Yahner, J. et al. The Rate of Cyber Dating Abuse Among Teens and How It Relates to Other Forms of Teen Dating Violence. J Youth Adolescence 42, 1063–1077 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-013-9922-8

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Keywords

  • Teen dating violence
  • Cyber dating abuse
  • Victimization
  • Perpetration