chapter  6
UNWANTED SEXUAL AND HARASSING EXPERIENCES: From School to Text Messaging
ByMICHELE YBARRA, DOROTHY L. ESPELAGE, SUZANNE MARTIN
Pages 11

Text messaging plays an important role in peer groups and is an integral component of social interaction (Lenhart, Arafeh, Smith, & Macgill, 2008). An estimated 36% of youth between 12 and 17 years of age use cell phone text messaging as a daily means of communication (Lenhart et al., 2008). As Danah Boyd (2007), an expert on technology’s in uence on youth social networks, explains, “Teens know who is on what [text messaging] plan, who can be called a er 7pm … who is over their texting for the month, etc. It’s part of their mental model of their social network and knowing this is a core exchange of friendship” (p. 3). Additionally, text messaging is used as a tool to heighten popularity among peers and to facilitate dating relationships (Boyd, 2007). Text messaging might be used as a tool to engage in harassment and verbal/relational aggression (e.g., social exclusion, rumor spreading) in order to achieve the goals of popularity attainment and desired dating relationships, coupled with the social nature of bullying behaviors (Espelage, Bosworth, & Simon, 2000). Aggression through text messaging could also be a continuation of peer aggression or victimization that has occurred at school. While many youth encounter bullying and harassment at some point in their educational career (Kann et al., 1995), the spillover of peer victimization at school to text messaging outside the con nes of the educational environment may create a world for some youth where peer victimization and/or bullying feels inescapable.