Intentional exposure to pornography and the perpetration of sexually aggressive behavior among adolescents
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  • 1. 22nd Annual San Diego International Conference onChild and Family Maltreatment, 2008Intentional exposure to pornography and the perpetrationof sexually aggressive behavior among adolescents: Anew area of child maltreatment researchMichele Ybarra MPH PhDInternet Solutions for Kids, Inc.Marie Diener-West PhDJohns Hopkins School of Public HealthMerle Hamburger PhDCenters for Disease Control and PreventionPhilip J Leaf PhDJohns Hopkins School of Public Health* Thank you for your interest in this presentation. Please note that analyses includedherein are preliminary. More recent, finalized analyses can be found in: YbarraM, Diener-West M, Markow D, Leaf P, Hamburger M, & Boxer P. Linkages betweeninternet and other media violence with seriously violent behavior by youth. Pediatrics.2008;122(5):929-937, or by contacting CiPHR for further information.
  • 2. AcknowledgementsThis survey was supported by Cooperative Agreementnumber U49/CE000206 from the Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention (CDC). The contents of thispresentation are solely the responsibility of theauthors and do not necessarily represent the officialviews of the CDC.I’d also like to thank Dr. Kimberly Mitchell for hercontributions to the manuscript which informed thispresentation.
  • 3. Background The relationship betweenpornography to deviant sexualbehavior has been studied in adults(Malamuth et al., 2000; Fukui & Westmore, 1994; Kutchinsky, 1991; Linz et al., 1984; Donnerstein &Linz, 1986; Demare et al., 1988) and hotly debated (Malamuth, 1989;Linz et al., 1987) for decades. Results are equivocal. Some studiesreport clear and consistent effects(Malamuth et al., 2000) while others describe null orinconclusive findings (Fukui & Westmore, 1994;Kutchinsky, 1991).
  • 4. BackgroundInconsistencies may in part beexplained by the effects of violentpornography (Linz et al., 1984; Donnerstein & Linz, 1986; Demare et al., 1988;Malamuth, Addison, and Koss, 2000).Associations between frequentpornography use and sexuallyaggressive behavior appearpronounced for men who consumeviolent pornography as well as menwho are prone to sexual aggression(Malamuth, Addison, and Koss, 2000).
  • 5. Background Little data exist for adolescents Ethical / legal considerations of purposefulexposure Sexual aggression in adolescence 5-10% males; 1% females (Borowsky et al., 1997;Maxwell et al., 2003) Unclear how / if findings for adultscan be applied to youth
  • 6. The Internet and X-Rated Material Estimates indicate that 95% ofadolescents are online Concern that the Internet willbecome primary method for viewingx-rated material In the YISS, 7% of youth reported (any)intentional online exposure, 8% reportedoffline exposure exclusively (Ybarra & Mitchell, 2004) In YISS2, 13% reported intentional onlineexposure (Ybarra, Mitchell, Wolak, Finkelhor, 2007)
  • 7. Research Questions What is the 1-year prevalence ofintentional exposure to x-ratedmaterial? Overall exposure and violent exposure Across a variety of media How does exposure to x-rated material(nonviolent & violent) relate toexpression of sexual aggression viatechnology? Face-to-face?
  • 8. GuwM Methodology 1,588 households (onecaregiver, one child) were surveyedonline Conducted between August 24 toSeptember 14, 2006 Participants recruited from Harris PollOn Line. Data are comparable withRDD telephone surveys whenweighting and propensity scores areapplied.
  • 9. Youth Demographic Characteristics 48% Female Mean age: 12.6 years (Range: 10-15) 72% White, 13% Black, 9% Mixed, 7%Other 18% Hispanic Median household income: $50,000-$74,999 Median time spent online on a typicalday: 31 minutes – 1 hour
  • 10. Defining Exposure to any X-RatedMaterialIn the last 12 months have you: Watched an X-rated movie at a friend’shouse, your house, or in the theatrewhere the main topic was sex? Looked at an X-rated magazine, likePlayboy, on purpose where you knewthat the main topic was sex?” Gone to or seen an X-rated or “adult”website where the main topic is sex?”
  • 11. Defining Exposure to Violent X-Rated Material In the last 12 months have you seen amovie that showed… In the last 12 months have you ever lookedat a magazine that showed… When you have gone to or seen an X-ratedor adult website, have you ever seen……a person being physically hurt byanother person while they were doingsomething sexual?
  • 12. Defining Technology-based SexualAggressionIn the last 12 months, how many times did you: Ask someone online to talk about sex Ask someone online to share personal sexualinformation Ask someone online to do something sexualOR Send a text message that was sexual in anyway Send a picture text message that was sexualin any wayWhen you knew the other person didn’t want you to.
  • 13. Defining Face-to-face SexualAggressionIn the last 12 months, how manytimes have you everkissed, touched, or done anythingsexual with another person whenthat person did not want to?
  • 14. Self-reported exposure to x-ratedmaterial79%16%5%No exposureOnly non-violentAny violent(n=1,588)
  • 15. Frequency of Intentional Exposure to X-Rated Material2.43.11.510.77.38.702468101214Magazines Movies InternetMedium of x-rated exposure%ofyouthreportingexposureNon-violent exposureViolent exposure(n=1,588)
  • 16. Perpetration of Technology-based Sexualaggression3.7% of youth report sexuallysoliciting or harassing someone elseusing technology at least once inthe last year: 3.1% report Internet-based aggression 1.5% report text messaging-basedaggression
  • 17. Perpetration of Face-to-face Sexualaggression2.4% of youth report sexuallyaggressive behavior towardssomeone else in a face-to-faceenvironment in the past 12 months.50% of these youth (1.2% of allrespondents) report BOTH face-to-face and technology-based sexualaggression
  • 18. Characteristics of Perpetrators of SexualAggression Poor emotional bond with caregiver Witnessing spousal abuse Use of alcohol and other drugs Propensity to respond to stimuli with anger Relational/physical bullying of others and startingfights Target of unwanted sexual harassment themselves Having blocking software is protective, knowing howto get around increases risk General Internet and text messaging use
  • 19. Cross-tabulation of exposure to x-rated materialand concurrent reports of sexual aggression98.3%88.6%62.7%24.8%9.9%0.4%12.5%1.3% 1.6%0.0%10.0%20.0%30.0%40.0%50.0%60.0%70.0%80.0%90.0%100.0%No intentional exposure Only non-violent exposure Any violent exposureSelf-reported sexually aggressive behavior%ofyouthreportingexpsoureFace-to-face sexual aggression (any)Online sexual aggression (only)No sexual agression
  • 20. Unadjusted Associations between X-RatedExposure Sexual Aggression******UnadjustedOddsRatio***Technology-based Face-to-face******************1.0 1.024.21.447.827.3110100Technology Face-to-faceOdds of sexual aggression given self-reported exposure to x-rated matieralLogoddsNo exposure (Reference Group)Non-violentViolent*********
  • 21. Adjusted Associations between X-RatedExposure and Sexual Aggression******AdjustedOddsRatio*******1.0 1.07.00.312.93.60110100Technology Face-to-faceAdjusted odds of sexual aggression given self-reported exposure to x-rated matieralLogoddsNo exposure (Reference Group)Non-violentViolent****Odds are adjusted for demographic characteristics, substance use, caregiver-childrelationships, spousal abuse, propensity to respond to stimuli with anger, exposureto peer aggression, Internet usage characteristics
  • 22. Summary: Exposure About one in five youth reportintentional exposure to x-rated material About one in twenty report intentionalexposure to violent x-rated material Rates of intentional exposure are similaracross movies, magazines, and theInternet
  • 23. Summary: Non-violent x-rated materialAssociations between sexual aggression and non-violent x-rated material are mixed: Non-violent x-rated material is not associated withan increase in the odds of face-to-face sexualassault. While inconclusive, the findings actually suggest aprotective trend against in-person sexual assaultfor consumers of non-violent x-rated material onceother influential factors are taken into account. On the other hand, non-violent x-rated materialonline is associated with increased odds oftechnology-based sexual harassment /solicitation.
  • 24. Summary: Violent x-rated materialConsumption of violent x-rated material by adolescentsappears to be associated with significantly elevatedodds of sexually aggressive behavior. Consumption of violent x-rated material is associatedwith a greater likelihood of also reportingtechnology-based sexual aggression. Elevated odds of in-person sexual assault also arenoted for youth who consume violent x-ratedmaterial.
  • 25. Summary: Violent x-rated materialIt is possible that exposure to x-rated materialcontributes to respondents’ sexuallyaggressive behavior.It is equally possible that consumption of x-rated material is part of a more generalmanifestation of externalizingbehaviors, inclusive of substance use andnon-sexually aggressive behaviors.
  • 26. Limitations of GuwM Data Data are cross-sectional. No way todetermine directionality ofassociations Frequencies of sexually aggressivebehaviors are low, making estimatespotentially unstable. Findings pointto trends, not population estimates.
  • 27. Limitations (cont) The data do not account forfrequency of x-rated materialconsumption Respondents were not directlyobserved. It is possible that: Children were monitored by theirparents Parents completed the youth survey.
  • 28. ImplicationsMore research is needed (of course..)These data suggest that intentionalexposure to violent material mayincrease the likelihood of peer-to-peersexual victimization.
  • 29. Implications Violent x-rated material appears tobe a potentially concerning markerfor youth functioning. Child health professionals should beaware of the possibility that youthare sexual aggressors online, notjust targets.