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Teen Dating Abuse and Harassment in the Digital World: Implications for Prevention and Intervention

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2013
2 pages
Based an a survey of 5,647 teens in middle and high schools, this study examined the prevalence, prevention, and intervention regarding teen dating abuse and harassment via new digital technologies, including social networking sites, texting, cell phones, and e-mails.
The study found that teens are harassing dating partners or ex-partners via digital technologies to send them degrading messages, embarrass them before a public audience in social media, and pressure them for sex and explicit photos. The most frequent form of harassment involved tampering with a partner's social networking account without permission. Nearly 1 in 10 teens in dating relationships reported having this happen to them in the past year. The study also found that this type of dating abuse was often accompanied by other forms of abuse from their dating partners. Approximately 84 percent of victims had been psychologically abused by their partners in direct interactions, and approximately half had been physically abused; one-third of the victims had experienced sexual coercion. A strategy of prevention and intervention should involve parents, teachers, principals, and peer leaders in raising awareness among youth about behavior that constitutes abuse and harassment, as well as ways of seeking help; for example, schools with computer labs should train teachers and students in blocking screen names, applying filters, and taking other protective measures that prevent and inhibit online abuse. Schools might also create peer groups that inform other students about dating abuse and harassment. Parents should be informed about how to spot warning signs that their children may be victims or perpetrators of online harassment.

Date Published: February 1, 2013