The current study examined the rate and psychiatric correlates of sexual abuse involving the use of digital technologies by the offender in a wide sample of juvenile victims. Sociodemographic, abuse, and psychiatric characteristics of 662 sexually abused children and adolescents were evaluated.
Of these, 93 reported that digital devices were used by the offender in several ways to facilitate the sexual abuse. The offender-victim relationship was initiated through the Internet in 39 victims. Involvement of digital technologies in sexual abuse was significantly associated with penetrative and recurrent form of sexual abuse commited by multiple offenders with coexisting violence.
Additionally, victims of sexual abuse with a digital component were 4.21 times more likely to develop any psychopathology, 3.77 times more likely to have depression, and 2.14 times more likely to have post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of sexual abuse.
These results indicated that the offender's use of digital technology may aid the initiation and facilitation of the sexual abuse of youths and may relate to more severe outcomes.
This study revealed the importance of raising the awareness of professionals and the community about the potential risks associated with digital technologies and sexual abuse. Mental health professionals should consider this additional form of victimization, especially when dealing with sexual abuse victims.
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- 1Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, Ondokuz Mayıs University , Samsun, Turkey .
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