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SV Research Update

August 18, 2010, 2:33 pm — admin (Uncategorized)

What’s been going on in the field?

Check it out:

1) Gilles, C., Van Loo, C., & Rozenberg, S. (2010). Audit on the management of complainants of sexual assault at an emergency department. European Journal Of Obstetrics, Gynecology, And Reproductive Biology, 151(2), 185-189.

2) Kelly, P. J.; Lesser, J, Cheng, A., Oscós-Sánchez, M., Martinez, E.,Pineda, D. et al. (2010). Prospective randomized controlled trial of an interpersonal violence prevention program with a Mexican American community. Family & Community Health. 33(3):207-215.

3) McMahon, S. (2010). Rape myth beliefs and bystander attitudes among incoming college students. Journal Of AmericanCollege Health: J Of ACH, 59(1), 3-11.

4)Rau, T., Merrill, L., McWhorter, S., Stander, V., Thomsen, C., Dyslin, C., et al. (2010). Evaluation of a sexual assault education/prevention program for male U.S. Navy personnel. Military Medicine, 175(6), 429-434.

5) Smith, L., Ford, J. (2010). History of forced sex and recent sexual risk indicators among young adults males. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 42(20, 87-92.

6) Tillman, S., Bryant-Davis, T., Smith, K., & Marks, A. (2010). Shattering silence: exploring barriers to disclosure for african american sexual assault survivors. Trauma, Violence & Abuse, 11(2), 59-70.

7 Year Olds & Puberty: The Sexual Violence Implications

August 10, 2010, 12:31 pm — admin (Uncategorized)

According to a recent NY Times article, “girls are more likely today than in the past to start developing breasts by age 7 or 8.”

7 or 8?

For those of you are long out of school–that’s during second grade.

Second grade.

That’s before you learn cursive or times tables.

Second grade is young, very young. And even younger when you consider the implications of early puberty.

The NYTimes articles mentions:

“The issue is of concern for both medical and psychosocial reasons. Socially and emotionally, life can be difficult for a girl who has a child’s mind in a woman’s body and is not ready to deal with sexual advances from men and boys, or cope with her own hormone-spiked emotions and sexual impulses.”

It is pretty darn troubling when you consider that the early sexualization of girls is already so commonplace—often before they understand what is happening—and now younger and younger girls are starting to look old beyond their years.

For example, anyone remember the little sister in Mean Girls?

Every time we see her in the film, she’s doing some sort of vaguely inappropriate dance while emulating music video pop stars. It’s supposed to be funny (and it is, within the context of the movie) and a bit of commentary aimed at our culture and parenting.

It’s less funny, however, in real life. A 7 or 8 year old may not realize that she’s acting in what is supposed to be an overtly sexual manner, because sex doesn’t mean anything to her at that age.

What happens, however, when you have a young girl who looks much older acting in this same totally innocently ’sexual’ manner?

Plus, it starts the cycle of harassment that much earlier. Instead of a 13 year old learning to ignore cat-calls and unwanted attention, you have a 7 year old feeling threatened.

This also reminds me of a case that made headlines a few years ago.

A judge handed down an incredibly lenient sentence (2 years) after a 25 year old man was convicted of raping a 10 year old girl.

His reasoning?

He said “the case was exceptional because the ‘young woman’ had been wearing a frilly bra and thong. It [was] quite clear she is a very disturbed child and a very needy child and she is a sexually precocious child. She liked to dress provocatively.”

I refuse to believe that wearing a bra or thong at ANY age is provocative, or some sort of mitigating factor when considering rape.

Would the judge have felt any differently if it were an 8 year old wearing a frilly bra and thong? Or a seven year old?

It’s distressing to think about, but the logic behind that sentence is scary.

And now young girls are being bombarded by sexually explicit images at the same time that they are developing at a younger age.

It all seems like the recipe for disaster—which is exactly why it’s so important that we talk about all of the implications for young girls.

SV Research Review

March 25, 2010, 11:28 am — admin (Uncategorized)

Although I do mostly policy and communications work here @ the Alliance (have you checked out our new policy section ? If not, you should!), I try to keep up with research in the field.

So here’s a quick rundown of recently or soon to be published reports on a variety of sexual violence topics.

1. Trends in Sexual Violence and Abuse Exposure
This study looked at trends in children’s exposure to abuse, violence, and crime victimization. Over 2000 children were assessed through caretaker and personal interviews. They found that between 2003 and 2008, rates of: physical assaults, sexual assaults, and physical bullying decreased. Other types of abuse, however, including “physical abuse and neglect by caregivers did not decline, and witnessing the abuse of a sibling increased.”

2. Physical Violence Against U.S. Women Around the Time of Pregnancy, 2004–2007
This study looked at the prevalence of intimate partner violence (IPV) around the time of pregnancy, while specifically determining if the abuse occurred in a current or previous partnership. The researchers estimated prevalence of IPV “among 134,955 women who delivered a singleton, full-term infant in 2004–2007.” They found that prevalence of abuse by a former partner was consistently higher than the prevalence of abuse by a current partner and that the three strongest predictors of IPV during pregnancy “were the woman’s partner not wanting the pregnancy,having had a recent divorce or separation, and being close to someone having a drug or alcohol problem. Based upon this information, they concluded “that assessments of abuse should ask specifically about actions by both current and ex-partners.”

3. Poly-Victimization in a National Sample of Children and Youth
According to the authors of this study, most studies of children’s exposure to violence focus on separate, narrow categories of victimization. This study however, attempted to document children’s lifetime exposure to “multiple victimization types (i.e., “poly-victimization”) and examine the association between poly-victimization and extent of trauma symptomatology.” After interviewing over 4000 children and their caretakers, the study authors determined that poly-victimization was high; “almost 66% of the sample was exposed to more than one type of victimization, 30% experienced five or more types, and 10% experienced 11 or more different forms of victimization in their lifetimes.” After analyzing this data and relating it to symptoms, they concluded that studies that do not take poly-victimization into account are likely to underestimate victimization in children, and that more comprehensive studies are more likely to identify those children in greater need of services and therapeutic intervention.

I know I provide long overview of each study, but I highly recommend that everyone check out the full text versions of these studies. The more information we have about sexual violence, the better! As new studies come out we’re better able to educate policy makers and the public, as well as target intervention and prevention services to the appropriate populations.

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Blog posts are the responsibility of their authors, and do not reflect the opinions of the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault.

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