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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

1/7/2014 (3 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Definition of sexual assault includes unwanted kissing, hugging

While sex among teenagers has been widely documented, non-consensual sex - or sexual assault, which is defined as broadly as unwanted kissing, touching and hugging has not been that widely studied. A new study has found that nearly one in 10 young Americans between the ages 14 and 21 acknowledges having perpetrated an act of sexual violence at least once. Four percent of a nationally representative sample of American kids reported attempting or completing rape.

Researchers asked participants whether they had ever engaged in a wide range of behaviors, including kissing, touching, making an unwilling partner do something sexual or coercing or forcing someone who did not want to have sex to do so. Surprisingly, girls are not always the victims.

Researchers asked participants whether they had ever engaged in a wide range of behaviors, including kissing, touching, making an unwilling partner do something sexual or coercing or forcing someone who did not want to have sex to do so. Surprisingly, girls are not always the victims.

Article Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

1/7/2014 (3 months ago)

Published in Marriage & Family

Keywords: Sexual assault, teenagers, study, rape


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - While those most likely to report initiating unwanted sexual contact in their early to mid-teens were boys, surprisingly girls were among the perpetrators as the age of respondents increased. Also surprisingly, Latino and African American youths, and those from low-income families, were less likely to have coerced another person to engage in sex than were whites and those from higher-income families, the study found.

The study turns on its head, at least partially, long-held, popular beliefs that rape and sexual coercion are often perpetrated by the poor, people of color, and males. It suggests there is considerable difference between what we think is happening and what is really happening in the world of teenage sexual activity. The reality is even worse.

In addition, the viewing of pornographic materials, specifically those depicting physical harm in a sexual context was notably more common than it was among youths who did not report efforts to coerce or force someone else to engage in sex.

As recently published in JAMA Pediatrics, the study appears to be first to study how widespread sexual violence is among Americans of high-school and college age.

The study consisted of surveys conducted between October 2010 and March 2012 with 1,058 people ages 14 to 21 who participated in a broader longitudinal study called "Growing up with Media."

Researchers asked participants whether they had ever engaged in a wide range of behaviors, including kissing, touching, making an unwilling partner do something sexual or coercing or forcing someone who did not want to have sex to do so. This is generally all defined as sexual violence.

Eight percent of those responding, 84 of 1,058 respondents reported they had kissed, touched or made someone else do something sexual when they knew the person did not want to do. About three percent reported they had gotten someone else to give in to sex when the perpetrator knew the other person did not want to, defined as "coercive sex."

Three percent of the teenage respondents acknowledged attempting rape, meaning that he or she had been unable to force someone else to have sex. Two percent, a total of 18 individuals said they had forced another person to have sex when they knew the person did not want to, a completed rape.

Arguing, pressuring, getting angry or making someone feel guilty, were most commonly reported by those who acknowledged attempted or completed rape. Seventy-five percent of the cases of sexual violence occurred in the context of a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. Ten of the respondents, less than one percent acknowledged having threatened or used physical force to get someone to engage in sex.

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