Effects of cyber bullying: Researchers reveal boys who are bullied online may have more risky sex

The study found that all types of peer victimization are associated with adverse psychological and behavioral problems

Adolescent boys who are cyber bullied pursue risky sexual behaviors more frequently than girls who are cyber bullied, a new study published in the International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health has suggested.

Based on a 2015 Youth Risk Behavior System Survey, which was a nationally representative survey of US high school students, the researchers analysed the data of 5,288 individuals who were reported to be engaged in sexual intercourse.

Cyber Bully
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Leads to adverse psychological and behavioral issues

The team of researchers from Louisiana State University, University of Missouri, and University of Tennessee found that all types of peer victimization are associated with adverse psychological and behavioral problems. The problems include depression for both females and males, and risky health behaviors such as substance use and unprotected sex with multiple partners.

The researchers said cyber bulling may reflect a culture of toxic masculinity. Thus, it is very important to pay more attention to male victims, who may be reluctant to self-identify, and therefore, at greater risk of negative health outcomes.

Is it applicable to school bullying?

As part of the study: 'Peer victimization, depression and sexual risk behaviors among high school youth in the United States: a gender-based approach', by Youn Kyoung Kim, Mansoo Yu, Courtney Cronley and Miyoun Yang, the researchers examined gender differences in the relationships between four types of peer victimization (school bullying, cyber bullying, physical dating violence, and sexual dating violence), depression, and risky sexual behaviors among US high school students.

However, the study noted that 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. Study author Youn Kyoung Kim said: "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."