In a shocking new statistic, it has been revealed that a whopping four percent of American teens have attempted or completed a rape. An even larger number of teens, 10 percent, have committed at least one act of “sexual violence.” Despite these horrifying statistics, many of the teens who rape or perpetrate other kinds of sexual violence feel no guilt for their actions.
Lead researchers on the study were Center for Innovative Public Health Research scientist Michele L. Ybarra and University of New Hampshire’s Crimes Against Children Research Center scientist Kimberly Mitchell. They published their findings, entitled “Growing Up With Media,” in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Pediatrics. It was a widespread study involving 1,058 teens and adults.
An important influential factor in the teens’ violent activity was the consumption of pornographic media, especially if that media portrayed sexual violence. Teens who committed rape were more likely to have watched such material than teens who had not engaged in watching pornography.
Even more shocking than the huge number of teens who have committed rape or sexual violence are the statistics about how many of those teens felt guilty afterwards. Nearly half of the respondents-four out of ten-reported that they considered the victim as shouldering some of the blame for the incident. And over 10% of participants said they were “not at all responsible” for the transgression.
Among the study participants, teens who committed acts of sexual violence under the age of 15 were nearly all male, while perpetrators over the age of 18-19 were equally male and female. The researchers also noted that violent media of a sexual nature seems to directly impact the rate of sexual violence among the participants:
Sexual violence perpetration appears to emerge earlier for males than females, perhaps suggesting different developmental trajectories. Links between perpetration and violent sexual media are apparent, suggesting a need to monitor adolescents’ consumption of this material. Victim blaming appears to be common, whereas experiencing consequences does not. There is therefore urgent need for school programs that encourage bystander intervention as well as implementation of policies that could enhance the likelihood that perpetrators are identified.
An earlier study that was published in The Journal of The American Medical Association showed one in five high school aged girls has experienced physical or sexual abuse. These numbers are staggeringly high, and reflect a growing culture of teens who lack empathy, have access to inappropriate sexual materials and who don’t harbor any feelings of guilt about perpetrating a rape. In that same study, it was revealed that a full third of girls ages 14-21 have reported being the victims of violence within a romantic relationship.
Just as violent media has been found to cause an increase in aggression of all kinds, so does violent pornography increase aggressive behavior in sexual situations. The question of why teens have so much easy access to violent pornography has yet to be explored, but it probably has to do with absentee parents and society’s obsession with unlimited technology.
A new study says that teens rape frequently with no guilt. Hopefully, additional studies will focus on how to prevent them from committing so much sexual violence and begin a societal discussion about the use of technology to deliver pornographic materials to underage people with no controls or limitations.
By: Rebecca Savastio
The American Psychiatric Association