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Community Health: Education, Prevention and Inspiration

Empowering people to make healthy, respectful and responsible choices.

Teen Sexual Violence

Posted by Tammi A. Tannura -

A study conducted online in 2010 and 2011, and published earlier this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics found that perpetration of sexual violence starts in the teen years. Youth involved in the online survey ranged in age from 14-21 years. A total of 1058 online surveys were collected.

The purpose of the study was to report national estimates of adolescent sexual violence perpetration outside of the criminal justice system. Results of the study showed that:

  • Almost 1 in 10 youth reported being the perpetrator (offender) in some type of sexual violence in their lifetime
  • 4% reported trying to rape someone or actually completing a rape
  • 50% of the perpetrators reported that they thought the victim was completely responsible for what happened
  • 90% of perpetrators who reported first perpetration at ages 16 or 17 years were male
  • At ages 18 and 19 years, the genders of the perpetrators of sexual violence were almost equal (males 52% and females 48%)

The survey also looked at media use and found that perpetrators of sexual violence were more likely to watch violent X-rated materials than were the others.

Food for Thought

What are young people being taught about consent and sexual activity? Where are they getting these messages? Parents? Friends? School? When should conversations about sex and consent begin? Do we still shy away from talking to youth about sex because we are embarrassed or don't know how to start the conversation? Or do we automatically assume it's being addressed at school?

Check out the following websites for some excellent resources about how to start ongoing conversations about sex:

  • Advocates for Youth

  • Cleveland Rape Crisis Center

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics


Shute, Nancy. Many teens admit to coercing others into sex. Retrieved on October 18, 2013 from

Ybarra ML, Mitchell KJ. Prevalence Rates of Male and Female Sexual Violence Perpetrators in a National Sample of Adolescents. JAMA Pediatr. 2013;():-. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.2629.


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