Identifying Predictors of Unwanted Online Sexual Conversations among Youth Using a Low Self-Control and Routine Activity Framework

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Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice




The development of the Internet and computer-mediated communications (CMC), such as email and instant messaging, has transformed the lives of young people. The ability to communicate in near real time with others provides beneficial social impact, though it has also created unique opportunities for victimization. Research has focused on certain forms of sexual activity online, such as sexting, but little study has been devoted to coercion to engage in sexual conversations as a form of sexual harassment. This study examined this phenomenon in a sample of middle and high school youth in Kentucky, applying an integrated low self-control and routine activity framework. The findings demonstrated that youth who were victimized were more likely to have low levels of self-control, view pornography, have peers who engaged others in sexual conversation online, and be female. The relationship between gender and victimization was examined in depth, along with the implications of this study for our understanding of the utility of routine activity theory and the general theory of crime.