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Despite young people being the largest users of mobile phone technology and social media and adolescence being a key stage in the life course where norms of sexual activity are established, young people engage in sexual risk taking and develop independence and autonomy, there have been few studies examining the association between sending sexually explicit images and DRV among 16–19 year olds in the UK.Although DRV is more widely recognized and researched within the US, it is still largely under-studied in the UK, especially among young people.Multiple modes of recruitment were used to invite all students aged 16–19 to participate.Information about the study and a weblink to the electronic (e)-questionnaire were emailed to all students using their institutional email where possible.In England, the age at which most young people leave education has been raised to 18 years.Further Education (FE) settings are educational settings that primarily serve 16–19 year olds.Students also completed questionnaires during scheduled lesson time using electronic tablets.
Comprehensive sexual health interventions in US high schools show promising results but they have not been developed for use in UK FE settings.
Among females, 46.1% experienced controlling behaviours and 31.6% threatening behaviours; 49.9% of males experienced controlling behaviours, 27.1% threatening behaviours and 5.8% online sexual violence.
The odds of DRV victimization were 2–8 times greater for males and 2–4 times greater for females who had ever sent a sexually explicit image.
No consistent association was found between DRV and age, spending money per week, educational attainment or meeting partners online.
The high prevalence, absence of gender differences and social patterning, suggests DRV victimization may be becoming normalized and is of significant public health importance for young people in England and Wales.
Evidence of associations between socio-demographic factors and adolescent DRV victimization is equivocal, with most studies undertaken in North America.