To estimate the prevalence of cyber dating abuse among youth aged 14 to 19 years seeking care at school-based health centers and associations with other forms of adolescent relationship abuse (ARA), sexual violence, and reproductive and sexual health indicators.
A cross-sectional survey was conducted during the 2012–2013 school year (participant n = 1008). Associations between cyber dating abuse and study outcomes were assessed via logistic regression models for clustered survey data.
Past 3-month cyber dating abuse was reported by 41.4% of this clinic-based sample. More female than male participants reported cyber dating abuse victimization (44.6% vs 31.0%). Compared with no exposure, low- (“a few times”) and high-frequency (“once or twice a month” or more) cyber dating abuse were significantly associated with physical or sexual ARA (low: adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 2.8, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.8–4.4; high: aOR 5.4, 95% CI 4.0–7.5) and nonpartner sexual assault (low: aOR 2.7, 95% CI 1.3–5.5; high: aOR 4.1, 95% CI 2.8–5.9). Analysis with female participants found an association between cyber dating abuse exposure and contraceptive nonuse (low: aOR 1.8, 95% CI 1.2–2.7; high: aOR 4.1, 95% CI 2.0–8.4) and reproductive coercion (low: aOR 3.0, 95% CI 1.4–6.2; high: aOR 5.7, 95% CI 2.8–11.6).
Cyber dating abuse is common and associated with ARA and sexual assault in an adolescent clinic-based sample. The associations of cyber dating abuse with sexual behavior and pregnancy risk behaviors suggest a need to integrate ARA education and harm reduction counseling into sexual health assessments in clinical settings.