University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign study: Sexual violence a problem as early as middle school

7 Apr

Moi wrote about teen dating violence in Study: 1 in 3 teens are victims of dating violence: Many adults would be shocked by this report from the Chicago Tribune that many teens find dating violence normal:

Ed Loos, a junior at Lake Forest High School, said a common reaction among students to Chris Brown‘s alleged attack on Rihanna goes something like this:
“Ha! She probably did something to provoke it.” In Chicago, Sullivan High School sophomore Adeola Matanmi has heard the same. “People said, ‘I would have punched her around too,’ ” Matanmi said. “And these were girls!” As allegations of battery swirl around the famous couple, experts on domestic violence say the response from teenagers just a few years younger shows the desperate need to educate this age group about dating violence. Their acceptance, or even approval, of abuse in romantic relationships is not a universal reaction. But it comes at a time when 1 in 10 teenagers has suffered such abuse and females ages 16 to 24 experience the highest rates of any age group, research shows.

The teens interviewed by the Chicago Tribune placed little worth on their lives or the lives of other women. If you don’t as the old ad tag line would say “don’t think you are worth it” why would anyone else think you are worthy of decent treatment?

Rebecca Klein reported in the Huffington Post article, Sexual Violence Among Students Is A Significant Problem As Early As Middle School, Says Study:

A substantial amount of sexual violence in middle school takes place right under teachers’ noses in the classroom, according to a new study.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, found that 27 percent of surveyed girls and 25 percent of surveyed boys reported facing a form of sexual violence on middle school grounds in the past year. Most often, the sexual violence took place in school hallways or classrooms.
The study, which was conducted in the spring of 2008, surveyed 1,391 students from Midwestern middle schools in grades 5 through 8. Approximately half of the survey participants were female, 59 percent were African-American, and 41 percent were Caucasian. The researchers define sexual violence as “any act of a sexual nature that is accomplished toward another without his/her consent.”
The most common forms of sexual violence reported were physical sexual violence, rumor spreading, verbal sexual violence and homophobic sexual violence. However, in open-ended questions about the sexual violence, students were sometimes dismissive of the harassment, saying that the perpetrator was “joking” and that the incident was “not that bad or serious.”
The study concludes that issues surrounding sexual violence need to be addressed during early adolescence, before high school.
“We need to talk about homophobic language, educate boys and girls about sexual harassment in schools … and follow up on incidents and make sure teachers intervene when they see it,” Dr. Dorothy Espelage, co-author of the study and professor of educational psychology at the University of Illinois, told The Huffington Post. “It’s a precursor to teen dating violence.”
For Espelage, the most surprising finding was the frequency of sexual violence taking place in classrooms. However, those findings build on the results of a previous study conducted by the same researchers, which found that although teachers are trained on how to deal with school bullying, they are less educated on the issue of student-on-student sexual harassment.
“Early adolescents are extremely dismissive of [sexual violence] because no one has taught them what it is,” Espelage said. “Teachers have this dismissive attitude themselves.”
School personnel are required to address incidents of harassment under anti-discrimination laws like Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Although Education Secretary Arne Duncan sent a letter to schools reminding them of this fact in 2010, Espelage said that when traveling schools, she found that many teachers never read the letter….


Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence Experiences Among Middle School Youth
Presented at:
AERA 2014 Annual Meeting
April 6, 2014
Sarah Rinehart, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Namrata Doshi, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Dorothy Espelage, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
This study indicated that middle school-aged students are experiencing real acts of sexual violence. These findings are consistent with studies of high school and college-age students that find that sexual harassment is quite prevalent. Students who reported an upsetting sexual harassment experience often indicated that they were physically touched or forced to be kissed against their will. Sexual harassment experiences that were just verbal in nature (e.g., commentary about one’s body parts) were also common. This study indicates that middle school youth have experienced a wide range of upsetting sexual violence experiences that seem to be unaddressed by adults in these schools.
Read the full paper

Advice to Teens in Abusive Relationships

Terry Miller Shannon gives teens advice about avoiding abusive relationships She advises teens to watch for the following danger signs:

1. Sweeping you off your feet and declaring love immediately. This is the number one sign of a potentially battering relationship.
2. Jealousy: Not wanting you to have other friends. Thinking everyone around WANTS you. Expecting you to spend every second with him. Sorry, extreme jealousy isn’t a compliment – it’s a problem.
3. Controlling behavior: Keeping track of whom you’re with and where you are. Telling you what to wear. Picking your friends. Keeping you from getting a job. Taking your money. Threatening to commit suicide, to spread gossip about you, or out you if you’re part of a same-sex couple (gay and lesbian dating violence is under-reported due to pressures not to go public).
4. Violence (physical, mental, or sexual): Punching the wall. Yelling. Insults. Name-calling. Isolating you from family or friends. Slamming the door. Insisting on any kind of unwanted sexual activity. Throwing things. Pinching, pushing, spanking…enough said?
Bottom line: If you’re uncomfortable with your relationship, something’s wrong. Mind your instincts. Be realistic – don’t expect your mate to change. Don’t believe him when he tells you the way he acts is your fault.

Popular culture makes teens who are not involved in activities as “couples” seem like outcasts. Too often, teens pair up before they are mature enough and ready for the emotional commitment. The more activities the girl is involved in and the more sponsored group activities, where teens don’t necessarily have to be in dating relationships, lessen the dependence on an abusive relationship.


The ‘Animal House’ attitude of some college administrators doesn’t take rape seriously

A tale of rape from Amherst: Sexual assault on campus

Sexual assault on college campuses

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr.

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