The lifetime prevalence of child sexual abuse and sexual assault assessed in late adolescence

J Adolesc Health. 2014 Sep;55(3):329-33. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.12.026. Epub 2014 Feb 25.

Abstract

Purpose: To estimate the likelihood that a recent cohort of children would be exposed to sexual abuse and sexual assault by age 17 in the United States.

Methods: This analysis draws on three very similarly designed national telephone surveys of youth in 2003, 2008, and 2011, resulting in a pooled sample of 708 17-year-olds, 781 15-year-olds, and 804 16-year-olds.

Results: The lifetime experience of 17-year-olds with sexual abuse and sexual assault was 26.6% (95% confidence interval [CI] 19.8-33.5) for girls and 5.1% (95% CI 2.6-7.6) for boys. The lifetime experience with sexual abuse and sexual assault at the hands of adult perpetrators exclusively was 11.2% (95% CI 6.4-16.1) for females and 1.9% (95% CI .5-3.4) for males. For females, considerable risk for sexual abuse and assault was concentrated in late adolescence, as the rate rose from 16.8% (95% CI 11.5-22.2) for 15-year-old females to 26.6% (95% CI 19.8-33.5) for 17-year-old females. For males, it rose from 4.3% (95% CI 1.9-6.8) at 15 years to 5.1% (2.6-7.6) at 17 years.

Conclusions: Self-report surveys in late adolescence reveal high rates of lifetime experience with sexual abuse and sexual assault at the hands of both adults and peers. Because of high continuing victimization during the late teen years, assessments are most complete when conducted among the oldest youth.

Keywords: Adolescence; Sexual abuse; Sexual assault.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology