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Risky Sex May be Consequence of Online Bullying of Boys

A new research collaboration has discovered peer victimization is associated with adverse psychological and behavioral problems. Investigators at Louisiana State University, University of Missouri, and University of Tennessee found that mental health issues including depression and risky health behaviors such as substance use and unprotected sex with multiple partners are associated with peer victimization.

Researchers discovered that in 2015, approximately one-third of high school students in the US reported having sex recently. Of these, 43% had not used a condom, 21% had drunk alcohol or used drugs before sexual intercourse, and 14% had not used any contraception.

Moreover, emerging research suggests that adolescent boys who are cyber bullied pursue risky sexual behaviors more frequently than girls who are cyber bullied. Investigators believe the results may reflect a culture of toxic masculinity and highlight the need to pay special attention to male victims. Males may be reluctant to self-identify, and therefore, at greater risk of negative health outcomes.

The study, “Peer victimization, depression and sexual risk behaviors among high school youth in the United States: a gender-based approach,” appears in the International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health.

The authors, Youn Kyoung Kim, Mansoo Yu, Courtney Cronley and Miyoun Yang examined gender differences in the relationships between four types of peer victimization. This included school bullying, cyber bullying, physical dating violence, and sexual dating violence. Researchers examined the association between peer victimization, depression, and risky sexual behaviors among US high school students.

Investigators analyzed the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior System Survey, a nationally representative survey of US high school students containing data from 5,288 individuals who reported having engaged in sexual intercourse.

The results show that all types of peer victimization are related to symptoms of depression for both females and males, and physical and sexual dating violence are associated with increased risky sexual behaviors.

However, school bullying does not predict risky sexual behaviors. Among males, cyber bullying predicts increased risky sexual behaviors and the relationship is greater when a boy is depressed.

“It is critical to create safe and private spaces for boys to share their experiences, and we hope that this research will encourage schools to consider efforts to destigmatize victimization through peer mentorship and open communication,” said Youn Kyoung Kim.

Source: De Gruyter

Risky Sex May be Consequence of Online Bullying of Boys

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2020). Risky Sex May be Consequence of Online Bullying of Boys. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 31 Jan 2020 (Originally: 31 Jan 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 31 Jan 2020
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