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Youth victims of violence are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior

Sunday, September 29, 2019 9:26 AM

A new study by Tara Warner (Criminal Justice) and David Warner (Sociology) has found that teens are more likely than children to be victims of violence, and that this victimization can lead to risky sexual behavior. The study, called “Precocious and Prolematic? The Consequences of Youth Violent Victimization for Adolescent Sexual Behavior” will be published later this year in the Journal of Developmental and Life Course Criminology.

Prior research has shown that violent victimization such as rape, physical assault, and gun violence is linked to depression, substance use, anger and aggression, and violent offending by the victim. The authors of the current study were interested in whether violent victimization also leads to risky sexual behavior.

The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) is a longitudinal study of adolescents in the U.S. in which a sample of abouit 15,000 adolescents in grades 7 through 12 were followed over a period of years until they were 24 to 32 years old. The study collected data on social, economic, psychological, and physical well-being. One finding was that by the time they reached 18-19 years old, about 64% had engaged in sexual intercourse.

Using data from Add Health the authors determined that  about 13% of the kids studied had experienced “street violence”  - such as being jumped, having a weapon pulled on them, or being cut, stabbed or shot. Kids who were victimized after age 14 were more likely to have started having sex sooner and have more partners, while victims younger than 14 were less likely to have intimate relationships overall, but more likely to engage in violent and deviant behaviors.

Further research is needed to determine whether youth victims of violence might also be more likely to engage in bestiality.