266891 High school student sexting associated with sexual risk behavior

Monday, October 29, 2012

Harmony Rhoades, PhD , School of Social Work, University of California, Los Angeles, CA
Eric Rice, PhD , School of Social Work, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Hailey Winetrobe, MPH , School of Social Work, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Monica Sanchez, Doctoral Student , Frances L. Hiatt School of Psychology, Clark University, Worcester, MA
Jorge Montoya, PhD , President and CEO, Sentient Research, West Covina, CA
Aaron Plant, MPH , Research, Sentient Research, West Covina, CA
Timothy Kordic, MA , Health Education Programs, HIV/AIDS Prevention Unit, Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles, CA
Background: Sexting (i.e., the sending and/or receiving of sexually-explicit cell phone texts and images) may be associated with sexual risk behavior among adolescents. However, to date, no published data from a probability-based sample has examined associations between sexting and sexual activity and risk behavior. Methods: A supplemental questionnaire was administered alongside the 2011 CDC Youth Risk Behavior Survey in the Los Angeles Unified School District, yielding a probability sample of 1,839 high school students. Logistic regressions were used to assess the correlates of sexting behavior and associations between sexting and sexual risk-taking. Results: Fifteen percent of high school students who had access to a cell phone reported sexting; 53% reported knowing someone who had sent or received a sext. Adolescents whose peers sexted were almost 17 times more likely to sext themselves. Adolescents who themselves sexted were almost seven times more likely to report being sexually active and were more likely to not have used a condom at last intercourse. Non-heterosexual students were almost three times more likely to report sexting, and more likely to have engaged in sexual activity and had unprotected sex at last intercourse. Conclusions: Sexting, rather than functioning as an alternative to “real world” sexual behavior, appears to be part of a cluster of risky sexual behaviors among adolescents, especially amongst non-heterosexual adolescents. We recommend that clinicians and school-based programs discuss sexting as an adolescent-friendly way of engaging patients in conversations about sexual activity, and prevention of sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancy.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. To assess the role of perceived peer norms in engaging in individual risk behavior. 2. To discuss sexting as a part of adolescent sexual risk behaviors potentially leading to physical health consequences. 3. To identify multiple venues for sexting education, prevention, and intervention.

Keywords: Adolescents, Sexual Risk Behavior

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I assisted in the data analysis and conceptualization of this project, and have a degree in Epidemiology with a focus on reproductive and sexual health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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