Online Program

Let's talk about sex... and bullying: An exploratory analysis of racial/ethnic variation in risky sexual behaviors and bullying victimization among adolescents

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 8:30 a.m. - 8:45 a.m.

Hailee Dunn, MPH, PhD (candidate), Department of Psychology, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI
Deborah N. Pearlman, PhD, Program in Public Health - Center for Population Health and Clinical Epidemiology, Brown University, Providence, RI
Background/Study Objectives: Previous research has found that engaging in risky sexual behaviors is significantly associated with bullying victimization among female but not male adolescents. These findings suggest that the sexual double standard, the notion that women are held to harsher standards of sexual conduct than men, may exist. The current study fills critical research gaps by assessing if the sexual double standard persists across adolescents from different racial/ethnic groups.

Methods: Data were from the 2013 High School Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, a national cross-sectional school-based survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Weighted logistic regression models with interaction terms were stratified by race/ethnicity to assess the joint effect of gender and sexual behaviors on bullying victimization. Sexually active boys served as the referent group.

Results: Compared to their sexually active male counterparts, girls who engaged in sexual intercourse had significantly higher odds of being bullied across all racial/ethnic groups, controlling for grade level, weight status and alcohol consumption. Bullying victimization was highest among White, sexually active, girls (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 3.17; 95% CI, 2.45-4.09). Bullying victimization was also significantly associated with the number of lifetime sexual partners reported by girls across almost all racial/ethnic groups, but not for boys.

Conclusions: Results from this study demonstrate that that the sexual double standard may persist among adolescents regardless of race/ethnicity. This study calls attention to the importance of addressing gendered, peer norms around sexual behavior when developing bullying prevention programs for youth of all racial/ethnic groups.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe racial/ethnic and gender differences in bullying victimization among sexually active adolescents. Discuss the sexual double standard in relation to adolescents’ gendered, peer norms around sexual behavior. Explain the need for bullying prevention programs to address the relationship between risky sexual behaviors and bullying victimization across all adolescent racial/ethnic groups.

Keyword(s): Youth Violence, Sexual Risk Behavior

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Having first authored published research related to risky sexual behaviors and bullying victimization, I possess a comprehensive background of the literature. I hold a MPH from Brown University and am currently pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of Rhode Island. My research interests include a synthesis of public health, psychology and women’s studies with a particular focus on prevention initiatives during adolescents.
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.