The Relationship Between Exposure to Digital Sexual Violence and Mental Health Outcomes: Insights from Namibia Violence Against Children and Youth Survey

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DOI: 10.21522/TIJAR.2014.11.01.Art003

Authors : Edson Chipalo


Digital sexual violence correlates with cyberbullying victimization, leading to the manifestation of psychological distress and diverse forms of suicidality such as thoughts, attempts, and self-harm. The purpose of this study was to examine the prevalence and association between exposure to digital sexual violence and mental health outcomes (i.e., mental distress and suicide risk) for boys and girls aged 13 to 24 in Namibia. This cross-sectional study utilized national data from the 2019 Namibia Violence Against Children and Youth Survey (VACS) involving 5,191 participants, with 4,211 being girls and 980 boys. Chi-square tests were used to determine the prevalence estimates and significant association for bivariate, and two logistic regression models were applied to assess the significant association for multivariate. The prevalence results indicated that exposure to digital sexual violence was associated with higher rates of moderate/severe mental distress in the past 30 days (boys [64.5%] vs. girls [65.2%]) and increased lifetime risk of suicide (boys [27.4%] vs. girls [40.1%]). Similarly, regression results showed that exposure to digital sexual violence was associated with a higher likelihood of reporting moderate/severe mental distress in the past 30 days (boys: 95% CI = 4.67-22.09; girls: 95% CI =2.75-4.88) and a lifetime risk of suicide (boys: 95% CI =2.16-10.63; girls: 95% CI = 2.68-4.75). In order to reduce mental distress and suicide risk behaviors, interventions should include implementing a safer online environment through digital literacy programs, reducing stigma, offering mental health counseling services, and establishing crisis hotlines for victims of digital sexual violence in Namibia.

Keywords: Boys, Digital sexual violence, Exposure, Girls, Mental distress, Namibia, Suicide risk.


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