JOURNAL ARTICLE

Association between sexual behaviors, bullying victimization and suicidal ideation in a national sample of high school students: implications of a sexual double standard

Hailee K Dunn, Annie Gjelsvik, Deborah N Pearlman, Melissa A Clark
Women's Health Issues: Official Publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health 2014, 24 (5): 567-74
25213749

PURPOSE: The sexual double standard is the notion that women are more harshly judged for their sexual behaviors than men. The purpose of this study was to investigate if the sexual double standard could explain gender differences in bullying victimization among adolescents and the extent to which that relationship correlated with depression and suicidal ideation.

METHODS: Analyses were conducted using a sample of high school students (n = 13,065) from the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a cross-sectional and national school-based survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Data were assessed using multiple logistic regression, gender-stratified analyses, and interaction terms.

FINDINGS: Students who engaged in sexual intercourse (sexually active) had higher odds of being bullied. When this association was stratified by gender, odds of being bullying increased for girls (odds ratio [OR], 1.83; 95% CI, 1.58-2.13) and decreased for boys (OR, 0.94; 95% CI, 0.77-1.16). Sexually active students who were bullied also displayed more than five times (OR, 5.65; 95% CI, 4.71-6.78) the adjusted odds of depression and three times (adjusted OR, 3.38; 95% CI, 2.65-4.32) the adjusted odds of suicidal ideation compared with students who reported neither of those behavioral characteristics. When stratified by gender, girls had slightly higher odds of depression and suicidal ideation but overall, the odds remained strong for both genders.

CONCLUSIONS: Results provide some evidence that a sexual double standard exists and may play a prominent role in bullying victimization among girls. Therefore, addressing the sexual double may be important to consider when tailoring school bullying intervention programs.

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