Online & Offline Sexual Harassment and Anxiety & Depressive Symptoms

Research Paper Title

Online and offline sexual harassment associations of anxiety and depression in an adolescent sample.

Background

The aims of this study were to study the prevalence of sexual harassment online and offline, to analyse the associations between subjection to sexual harassment and adolescents’ mental health and analyse if there are any significant differences between girls and boys. The researchers also examine if good peer-relationships interact with the associations between sexual harassment and mental health complaints.

Methods

This cross-sectional study included 594 adolescents, age 12-20. Participants responded to a web survey including the self-assessment scales Revised Children’s Anxiety and Depression Scale and Beck Youth Inventories as well as subjection to online and offline sexual harassment and peer-relational quality. Linear regression analysis was used to study whether symptoms of anxiety and depression correlated to subjection to online and offline sexual harassment and peer-relational quality.

Results

The researchers found that 48.50% of girls and 28.19% of boys reported sexual harassment victimisation. Offline was the most frequently reported site of victimisation. Online harassment correlated significantly with increased anxiety and depressive symptoms in girls but not boys. Offline harassment as well as online and offline harassment correlated significantly with increasing symptoms for both genders. Participants who reported good peer-relationships had significantly less symptoms.

Conclusions

This study shows that sexual harassment remains a common plague for adolescents, especially for girls. Offline sexual harassment is the most common form of harassment for both genders. For girls, but not for boys, online sexual harassment correlated significantly with anxiety and depressive symptoms. A strong negative correlation between satisfaction to peer-relationships and mental health symptoms was found.

Reference

Stahl, S. & Dennhag, I. (2020) Online and offline sexual harassment associations of anxiety and depression in an adolescent sample. Nordic Journal of Psychiatry. doi: 10.1080/08039488.2020.1856924. Online ahead of print.

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