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Predictors and protective factors for adolescent Internet victimization: results from a 2008 nationwide Danish youth survey

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Aim:  To examine the rate of Internet victimization in a nationally representative sample of adolescents aged 14–17 and to analyze predictors and protective factors for victimization.

Methods:  Data were collected for 3707 pupils in Danish schools in 2008, using a multimedia computer‐based self‐interviewing programme. Family characteristics, alcohol and drug abuse, exposure to physical/sexual abuse, emotional problems, social conduct and own risky Internet behaviour were included in the analyses.

Results:  Any online victimization was reported by 27% of the adolescents, most frequently a rumour spread online (9% of boys and 15% of girls) and sexual solicitation (5% of boys and 16% of girls). Parental surveillance of adolescents’ Internet use significantly reduced their risk of online victimization. Roughly half of the adolescents had met Internet acquaintances face to face, with few instances resulting in forced sex (five boys and nine girls). Female gender, parental physical violence, previous exposure to sexual abuse, alcohol abuse in the family, self‐reported emotional problems and antisocial behaviour and high Internet use were all weakly and risky online behaviour strongly associated with online victimization.

Conclusions:  Danish adolescents are generally aware of the principles of ‘safe chatting’; however, online harassment is relatively frequent, but offline victimization based on Internet acquaintances is rare.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: National Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark 2: Department of Psychology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

Publication date: 2012-05-01

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