Sexual Coercion Among Adolescents: Victims and Perpetrators

Adolescence is a transitional period when the pressure to engage in romantic and sexual relationships can leave teenagers feeling confused and at risk for sexual coercion. Our studies investigated characteristics of male and female perpetrators and victims of peer sexual coercion, focusing on self-esteem, sexist attitudes, and involvement in nonsexual deviant behaviors, such as drugs and alcohol. The participants, all of whom were in Grades 8 to 11, were from Quebec, Canada. They completed self-report measures. Female victims had lower self-esteem and more sexist attitudes than other female participants, whereas male perpetrators had more sexist attitudes than other male participants. Furthermore, all victims and perpetrators were more likely to be involved in other types of nonsexual deviance
Mendelson,Morton J.
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Journal of Interpersonal Violence
Students in a suburban Quebec school were asked if other students had verbally harassed them, made non-coercive sexual contact (e.g., unwanted kissing) or attempted to obtain sexual favors using blackmail or force in the previous 3 months. They were also asked if they had perpetrated those acts on another student. The study included 37 students who reported being victimized and 21 who reported perpetrating the behavior. These groups were then compared with a matched control sample of students. Female students who were victims (n=27) were more likely to endorse sexist attitudes than other girls; boys who were perpetrators were more likely to endorse sexist attitudes than other boys. All victims were more likely to use drugs and alcohol than controls or perpetrators. Both victims and perpetrators were involved with more deviant behaviors than controls. Limitations of this study include: a small sample size; students were only asked about peer-related behaviors outside of romantic relationships, which may have resulted in underreporting of victimization; and the perceived severity of the experiences was not assessed.
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Adolescent/high school; harassment; myths/stereotypes; perpetration
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