Bullying: Sexual Risk Taking Among Adolescents

Dr.. Melissa HoltMedicalResearch.com
Melissa K. Holt, PhD
School of Education, Boston University
Boston, Massachusetts

 

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Dr. Holt: Results from this study indicated that among the sample of adolescents surveyed, bullies and bully-victims (i.e., youth who are both perpetrators and targets of bullying) engaged in more sexual risk taking behaviors than their peers.  Specifically, they were more likely to report casual sex and sex under the influence of alcohol or drugs. For instance, 33.8% of bullies and 23% of bully-victims reported sex under the influence of alcohol or drugs in contrast to 14% of youth not involved in bullying.  Notably, findings suggested that bullying involvement might be a more salient predictor of sexual risk taking for heterosexual than GLBTQ adolescents.
MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Holt: One somewhat surprising finding was that bullying experiences significantly predicted sexual risk taking, over and above other adverse childhood experiences (e.g., child maltreatment, dating violence).  This suggests that bullying experiences might have a particularly strong influence on sexual risk taking.

MedicalResearch.com What are the take away messages?

Dr. Holt: One recommendation based on study findings is that bullying prevention programs should consider addressing the potential link between bullying and sexual risk taking.  This could be accomplished by taking a broader stress and coping perspective to better address the potential ways in which bullying involvement influences other areas of functioning.

MedicalResearch.com: What are your recommendations for future research?

Dr. Holt: Given that findings suggested that bullying involvement might be a more salient predictor of sexual risk taking for heterosexual than GLBTQ adolescents, additional research could address how coping responses to bullying involvement might differ for GLBTQ youth.

Citation:

Sexual Risk Taking and Bullying Among Adolescents

Melissa K. Holt, Jennifer L. Matjasko, Dorothy Espelage, Gerald Reid, and Brian Koenig

Pediatrics peds.2013-0401; published ahead of print November 11, 2013, doi:10.1542/peds.2013-0401