Individual, Family, and School Factors Relating to Sexting and Bullying : Final Report

Hunter, Simon C. and Russell, Kirsten and Knifton, Lee (2018) Individual, Family, and School Factors Relating to Sexting and Bullying : Final Report. [Report]

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    Abstract

    Background This project had two key aims: (i) to examine young people’s active sexting behaviours and passive sexting experiences, and to see how these related to school, family, peer, and romantic factors; (ii) to examine how young people intend to intervene when they see their peers experiencing bullying behaviours. These issues were both situated within a broader comparison of responses by young people who have, or have not, experienced the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) intervention programme. Method Between September 2017 and April 2018 data were collected from 3322 young people aged 11-15 years old. Of these, 55% were from schools participating in the MVP intervention programme and 45% were from non-MVP schools. Participants completed a number of self-report measures to assess involvement in sexting (actively and passively), involvement in bullying (as someone who uses bullying behaviours, someone who experiences these, or someone who has seen other being bullied), school connectedness, parental love and support, perceived susceptibility to peer pressure, and perceived susceptibility to romantic pressure. Participants were also asked to respond to hypothetical bullying vignettes by indicating their intention to intervene across different forms of peer-conflict. Results - Comparing young people attending schools which had implemented the MVP intervention with those who had not revealed no differences on their experience of bullying behaviours, their use of bullying behaviour, or their reports of witnessing bullying behaviours. - There were also no important differences between MVP and non-MVP schools on parental love and support, school connectedness, perceived susceptibility to peer pressure, and perceived susceptibility to romantic pressure. Sexting - Active involvement in sexting (sending a sext or asking someone to send a sext) was very rare among young participants, with more than 98% of 11 and 12 year olds saying they had not actively sexted. There was more active sexting reported by older students, with 11% of 14 year olds reporting that they had engaged in active sexting over the preceding year. - Passive sexting (receiving sexts or being asked to send a sext) was more common than active sexting. Almost a fifth (17%) of 11 year olds reported having received sexts during the preceding year, this number rising to almost half (45%) of all 14 year old students. - Girls reported experiencing more passive sexting than boys (42% and 24% respectively). Girls also reported engaging in slightly more active sexting than boys (6% and 5% respectively). - Perceived susceptibility to peer pressure was not associated with sexting. - Higher levels of parental love and support and school connectedness were both associated with less sexting. - More perceived susceptibility to romantic pressure was associated with higher reported involvement in sexting. - Young people in MVP schools reported no more involvement in passive sexting than young people in non-MVP schools. However, those in MVP schools reported more involvement in active sexting (6.9% and 4.2% respectively). Intervening - Young people reported that they were more likely to try to intervene immediately or to report the bullying incident to adults than to later offer support to someone being bullied. Most students (more than 4 out of 5) indicated they were maybe or likely to intervene when they saw peers involved in aggressive incidents. - Girls reported higher levels of intention to intervene. - There were no other notable differences in intervention behaviour. Conclusions There were very few differences between the young people in schools which had implemented MVP and those that had not. The only difference reported by young people was a higher level of active sexting in MVP schools than in non-MVP schools. Our research design means we cannot confidently attribute either differences or the absence of differences to the intervention. Sexting was more common among older than younger adolescents, and among girls than boys. One important message to emerge from the analyses was that helping young people to resist pressure put on them within romantic relationships may be a helpful factor in lowering sexting rates.