Almost 1 in 10 high school- and college-aged individuals have forced someone into sexual activity against his or her will. And the majority of those who have done so think the victim is at least partly to blame. Really? Again, really?
This multi-year study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was designed to look for the roots of adult sexual violence. You know what they found? Most adult perpetrators say they first preyed on another while still in their teens. In adulthood, more than 1 million people are the victims of sexual assault or rape each year; this is according to the National Institutes of Justice. And domestic violence affects more than 2 million adults a year.
Sixteen seems to be the age when sexual coercion becomes a real issue - at least for boys. By age 18, girls have become as involved in preying on others to the point they were as likely to be perpetrators as were boys. Three-fourths of the victims were in a relationship with the perpetrator. Omigosh, get this: The coercion most used in the teen years was psychological - not physical. Trying to force sex by playing on guilt, getting the victim drunk or pressuring were the top tactics.
What can parents do? Have conversations with their children long before age 16. Figure out a (comfortable?) way to talk about healthy sex versus unhealthy sex and more than just the sexually transmitted disease aspect of healthy sex.
The Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca and Wyandot Counties is committed to sharing information and resources for better mental health and the prevention of substance abuse. It now has a website, www.mhrsbssw.org, and a link to our Facebook page.
If you would like more information, please call the board at (419) 448-0640 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays. The board's hotline is available 24/7 at (800) 826-1306.