Sexual abuse amongst teens goes unreported - study

  • 21/11/2013

A new study highlights reasons why young people are often reluctant to report sexual violence.

More than 200 Auckland teenagers participated in the research entitled 'Breaking the Silence but Keeping the Secrets'.

It found young people did not think victims would necessarily disclose sexual violence to anyone.

The Help Foundation, which supports women and children who have experienced abuse, was one of the organisations that commissioned the report. Crisis services manager Aimee Stockenstroom says one in five women and one in 10 men experiences unwanted sexual contact while they're at secondary school.

"Of those young people, 50 percent of females as well as 70 percent of males report it to no one," she said on Firstline this morning.

"Young people in particular have a narrow understanding of what sexual violence is. When those discussions occur among young people what they're thinking about is usually things around stranger rape.

"So with this idea about how sexual violence happens and who it might happen to, it actually means that if it does happen to them, they don't necessarily see it as sexual violence."

Ms Stockenstroom says sexual violence is "anything where someone doesn't give consent around any type of sexual activity".

"The broader definition is around unwanted touching, unwanted sexual contact, being forced to engage in sex in any type of way; being forced to watch pornography, receiving unwanted text messages that have some type of sexual content in them; being shown graphic pictures or things like that."

And – much like with adults – it often goes unreported because young victims feel they're to blame, or that people will blame them.

"The guilt, the shame, the embarrassment, the worry of what people might say about them, becoming that girl and not wanting to be ostracised by their peer group," says Ms Stockenstroom.

The reporting rate is even lower outside of schools.

"About 10 percent of [incidents of sexual violence] are reported to police. Of those 10 percent, 2 percent go to court and of those 2 percent, there's a 1 percent conviction rate."

The study comes in the wake of the Roast Busters case, which has brought the issue of victim-blaming into the mainstream.

3 News

source: newshub archive