EJ Thulin, P Kernsmith, PJ Fleming, JE Heinze, J Temple, J Smith-Darden. Coercive-sexting: Predicting adolescent initial exposure to electronic coercive sexual dating violence. Computers in Human Behavior 141, 107641.
Electronic coercion – a form of dating violence whereby one partner aims to elicit explicit text, photo or video content from their dating partner – is associated with negative longitudinal sequelae related to depressive symptomatology and delinquency. Though prevalence rates as well as trajectory of engagement in electronic coercion have previously been reported, less is known about timing and prevalence of initial exposure and what predicts initial exposure. Using data drawn from the four year prospective longitudinal Strengthening Healthy Adolescent Relationships and Environments Study, Kaplan Meier survival analyses were employed to study initial exposure to electronic coercion perpetration in two cohorts of youth (total n = 1000), aged 12 to 15, and 15 to 18, respectively over four years. Cox Hazards models were utilized to evaluate if covariates reported at age 12 predicted sexual coercion hazard between 13 and 15, and which covariates at age 15 predicted sexual coercion hazard between 16 and 18. We found that risk of initial exposure to electronic coercion increases across time. At age 13, 7% of the younger cohort reported initial exposure, rising to 15.3% at age 14, and subsequently, 19.1% by age 15. In the older cohort, 18.6% of 16 year-old youth reported having their initial exposure, increasing to 26.1% at age 17, and to 31.6% at age 18. Risk of electronic coercion perpetration between age 13 and 15 was predicted by higher frequency of electronic use, greater engagement in dating behaviors, electronic harassment in teen dating relationships, and greater lifetime consumption of pornography. Risk of electronic coercion perpetration between age 15 and 18 was predicted by higher numbers of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and greater engagement in dating behaviors reported at age 15. Greater engagement in dating behaviors (including sexual behaviors) was significant for both cohorts, while electronically mediated violence (e.g., electronic harassment and greater consumption of pornography) may be an important early predictor for pre-adolescent youth. Prevention activities should start prior to age 13 given the ramping up of risk through mid-adolescence.