Cyber Dating Abuse Among Teens Using School-Based Health Centers by Sexual Minority Status in Relationship Abuse and Sexual and Reproductive Health Among Adolescent Females

Rebecca N. Dick, Heather L. McCauley, Kelley A. Jones, Daniel J. Tancredi, Sandi Goldstein, Samantha Blackburn, Erica Monasterio, Lisa James, Jay G. Silverman, Elizabeth Miller

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To estimate the prevalence of cyber dating abuse among youth aged 14 to 19 years seeking care at school-based health centers and associations with other forms of adolescent relationship abuse (ARA), sexual violence, and reproductive and sexual health indicators.

METHODS

A cross-sectional survey was conducted during the 2012–2013 school year (participant n = 1008). Associations between cyber dating abuse and study outcomes were assessed via logistic regression models for clustered survey data.

RESULTS

Past 3-month cyber dating abuse was reported by 41.4% of this clinic-based sample. More female than male participants reported cyber dating abuse victimization (44.6% vs 31.0%). Compared with no exposure, low- (“a few times”) and high-frequency (“once or twice a month” or more) cyber dating abuse were significantly associated with physical or sexual ARA (low: adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 2.8, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.8–4.4; high: aOR 5.4, 95% CI 4.0–7.5) and nonpartner sexual assault (low: aOR 2.7, 95% CI 1.3–5.5; high: aOR 4.1, 95% CI 2.8–5.9). Analysis with female participants found an association between cyber dating abuse exposure and contraceptive nonuse (low: aOR 1.8, 95% CI 1.2–2.7; high: aOR 4.1, 95% CI 2.0–8.4) and reproductive coercion (low: aOR 3.0, 95% CI 1.4–6.2; high: aOR 5.7, 95% CI 2.8–11.6).

CONCLUSIONS

Cyber dating abuse is common and associated with ARA and sexual assault in an adolescent clinic-based sample. The associations of cyber dating abuse with sexual behavior and pregnancy risk behaviors suggest a need to integrate ARA education and harm reduction counseling into sexual health assessments in clinical settings.

CITATION

Dick R. N., McCauley H. L., Jones K. A., Tancredi D. J., Goldstein S., Blackburn S., Monasterio E., James L., Silverman J. G., Miller E. Cyber dating abuse among teens using school-based health centers. Pediatrics. Published online: November 17, 2014 (doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-0537).