Nearly one in 10 young people report being a perpetrator of sexual violence — either coercing or forcing some type of sexual contact upon another, according to a new national study that suggests a connection between such behavior and being exposed to violent X-rated material.
The research, published online Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, is based on data from 1,058 young people ages 14-21 collected in 2010 and 2011 by the Center for Innovative Public Health Research, a non-profit organization based in San Clemente, Calif. About half the participants, 53%, were ages 18-21, and 47% were ages 14-17.
“Sexual violence can be perpetrated by anybody – a dating partner, a friend or somebody you don’t know,” says Michele Ybarra, the center’s president and director of research. “We asked perpetrators about their relationship with their most recent victims, and one in four said it was not a dating partner.”
Ybarra says this study is important because most research about sexual violence has focused only on dating partners and on college-age individuals who don’t require parental consent. Participants in this research are part of the center’s ongoing Growing up with Media study, which began in 2006. The study notes that it’s “one of the first reports of national rates of sexual violence in adolescence.” It says “findings should be interpreted cautiously” and urges that they be replicated.