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Sex Abuse. 2018 Sep 28:1079063218800469. doi: 10.1177/1079063218800469. [Epub ahead of print]

Sextortion Among Adolescents: Results From a National Survey of U.S. Youth.

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1 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, USA.
2 Florida Atlantic University, USA.


Sextortion is the threatened dissemination of explicit, intimate, or embarrassing images of a sexual nature without consent, usually for the purpose of procuring additional images, sexual acts, money, or something else. Despite increased public interest in this behavior, it has yet to be empirically examined among adolescents. The current study fills this gap by exploring the prevalence of sextortion behaviors among a nationally representative sample of 5,568 U.S. middle and high school students. Approximately 5% of students reported that they had been the victim of sextortion, while about 3% admitted to threatening others who had shared an image with them in confidence. Males and nonheterosexual youth were more likely to be targeted, and males were more likely to target others. Moreover, youth who threatened others with sextortion were more likely to have been victims themselves. Implications for future research, as well as the preventive role that youth-serving professionals can play, are discussed.


dating violence; online relationships; sexting; sextortion; sexual harassment


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