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NCJ Number: 222381 Find in a Library
Title: Adolescent Sexual Victimization: Choice of Confidant and the Failure of Authorities
Journal: Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice  Volume:6  Issue:2  Dated:April 2008  Pages:158-177
Author(s): Rachel E. Stein; Stacy D. Nofziger
Date Published: April 2008
Page Count: 20
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study investigated the experience of sexual victimization among American youth.
Abstract: Evidence suggests that victimization affects all groups of society, and for many adolescents it is not an isolated event, but a repeated form of abuse. Though family members were identified as offenders in some of these cases, the majority of these victims were assaulted by a friend. This is an important finding because adolescents turn to peers for their sense of identity and self-worth, seeking to find acceptance among friends. The findings of the current study indicate that sexual activity among peers may actually be assaults and therefore cannot be considered a harmless activity. The focus of child protection agencies should expand beyond family offenders to include sexual abuse by peer offenders. Adolescent victims are overwhelmingly more likely to confide in their peers after an incident of sexual abuse. Peers, however, are not likely to encourage the victim to seek outside help, such as counseling services, which would be beneficial to the victim. Sexual victimization is not likely to be reported to authorities when a friend is chosen as confidant, thereby inhibiting the likelihood of the victim being directed to engage in mental-health services; this also lowers the chance of legal action taken against the offender. Even when these friends encourage the victims to seek out additional help from authorities, there is seldom an arrest made. Social service agencies need to reevaluate the importance of peer assaults in the lives of adolescents. A more consistent means of connecting these adolescents with individuals who are in a position to provide real assistance should be provided to abuse victims. Tables, notes, and references
Main Term(s): Child Sexual Abuse; Victimization
Index Term(s): Peer influences on behavior; Sexual assault; Sexual assault victims; Sexually abused adolescents; Victimization risk
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