It’s almost Valentine’s Day, but there is nothing romantic about new research illuminating how teen dating abuse is manifesting online. A study of U.S. middle and high school students showed that 28.1 percent had been the victim of at least one form of digital dating abuse. More than one-third had been the victim of traditional dating abuse (offline). Boys in heterosexual relationships experienced all forms of digital dating abuse more than girls and were even more likely to experience physical aggression.
Telling youth not to “sext” doesn’t seem to be reducing the prevalence of them sharing nude photos or videos. A national sample of about 5,000 youth ages 12 to 17 showed 14 percent had sent and 23 percent had received sexually explicit images. Researchers say it’s time to teach teens ‘safe’ sexting and provide important tips to avoid significant and long-term consequences, such as humiliation, extortion, victimization, school sanction, reputational damage, and even criminal charges.