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1 in 10 Young People Report Committing Sexual Violence

Update Date: Oct 07, 2013 08:14 PM EDT

One in 10 young people under the age of 22 have committed some type of coercive or forced sexual violence during their lifetime, according to a new study.

The research also revealed that perpetrators reported more exposure to violent X-rated material.

While sexual violence can start in adolescence, investigators say that research on the topic is lacking.

For the study, lead researcher Michele L. Ybarra, M.P.H., Ph.D., of the Center for Innovative Public Health Research, San Clemente, California, and her team analyzed data for 1,058 young people between the ages of 14 and 21 years in the Growing Up with Media study.

Researchers found that 9 percent of young people reported perpetrating some type of sexual violence in their lifetime. The study revealed that 8 percent of participants reported forced contact (kissing, touching or making someone who doesn't want to do something sexual), 3 percent reported coercive sex (made someone have sex when they knew the other person did not want to), another 3 percent reported attempted rape (attempted but were unable to force someone to have sex) and 2 percent completed rape.

The study found that the most common age at the first perpetration of sexual violence was 16 years old, and boys were overwhelming more likely to have their first episode at 15 years of age or younger.

Those who reported previously committing sexual violence tended to report more frequently being exposed to media that depicted sexual and violent situations.

The study revealed that those who reported trying to force someone to have sex reported using coercive tactics like arguing, pressuring someone, getting angry or making someone feel guilty. Researchers said that these tracts are more commonly used than threats or physical force.

The victims were most often a romantic partner, and 50 percent of perpetrators blamed the victim for the sexual violence.

Most perpetrators also reported that no one had found out about the incidents, according to the study.

"Certainly, however, links between perpetration and violent sexual media are apparent, suggesting a need to monitor adolescents' consumption of this material, particularly given today's media saturation among the adolescent population," researchers concluded. "Because victim blaming appears to be common while perpetrators experiencing consequences is not, there is urgent need for high school (and middle school) programs aimed at supporting bystander intervention."

The findings are published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

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