CDC Study Confirms Sexual Violence Against Teen Girls Increased During Pandemic Lockdowns

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Sexual Violence Against Teenage Girls Widespread in Schools, at Home, Online

Sexual Violence Against Teenage Girls Widespread in Schools, at Home, Online

Feb 23, 2023

A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has highlighted the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the mental health and well-being of teenage girls. In particular, the CDC study made headlines recently by confirming that nearly three in five teen girls (roughly 57%) feel persistently sad or hopeless – the highest rate in a decade, according to a CBS report.

Sexual Violence Against Teen Girls Increased During Pandemic Lockdowns

Other troubling statistics revealed by the CDC study include:

  • 30% of teen girls have seriously considered dying by suicide (a significant increase from the percentage recorded 10 years ago).
  • One in five teen girls reported experiencing sexual violence in the past year.
  • 14% of all teenage girls had been forced to have sex (a staggering 27% increase since 2019).

“While women of all ages have long endured a disproportionate number of sex assaults compared to men, a closer look at the CDC data reveals that the number of young girls forced into sex grew by nearly 200,000 in just two years,” a report from NBC Los Angeles confirmed.

CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Study Reveals Alarming Statistics on Sexual Violence

Entitled the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the CDC’s study included responses from more than 17,000 high school students. Conducted every other year, the most recent behavior survey confirmed an “unprecedented wave of grief and sadness among teenage girls.” That unhappiness may be linked to a spike in incidents of sexual violence.

According to the CDC, in 2021, nearly 20% of teenage girls said they had been victims of violent sexual behavior. In addition, more than one in 10 had been raped, according to the study’s data.

The CDC’s chief medical officer, Dr. Debra Houry, stated that she was disheartened by the steep rise, but not surprised.

Sexual violence has been a pervasive problem among girls for quite some time,” Houry said. “We aren’t making the progress we need to.”

For 2021, the percentage of boys reporting that they had been raped remained the same – around 4% – since 2011, NBC Los Angeles confirmed.

High school should be a time for trailblazing, not trauma,” Dr. Houry added. “These data show our kids need far more support to cope, hope and thrive.”

The CDC’s study also indicated that emotional distress was particularly high among teenagers who identified as LGBTQ+. According to the CDC’s findings:

  • Nearly 70% of LGBQ+ students experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness.
  • 52% had recently experienced poor mental health.
  • 45% had seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, and 22% had attempted suicide in the past year.
  • Nearly one-quarter were bullied at school, and about 30% were bullied online in 2021.

The survey did not have a question assessing gender identity, so data does not reflect students who identify as transgender or nonbinary,” USA Today reported. “But health officials said the question will be included in the 2023 survey.”

The survey also uncovered racial and ethnic disparities:

  • Black and Hispanic students were more likely than Asian, white and multiracial students to miss school because of safety concerns.
  • Hispanic and multiracial students were more likely than Asian, Black and white students to have persistent feelings of sadness of hopelessness.
  • Black students were more likely than Asian, Hispanic and white students to attempt suicide.

In the wake of the CDC’s findings, officials have reportedly signaled an urgent need for investment in school programs. “The survey also found 61% of high school students felt a sense of school connectedness,” USA Today said.

“Young people are experiencing a level of distress that calls on jus to act with urgency and compassion,” Kathleen Ethier, director of adolescent and school health at the CDC, told USA Today. “With the right programs and services in place, schools have the unique ability to help our youth flourish.”

The complete findings from the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey can be found here.

Types of Sexual Violence Explained

Types of Sexual Violence Explained
Under the law, sexual violence is generally defined as any intimate act that does not involve consent. Some of the most common types of sexual violence seen by Dordulian Law Group’s (DLG) sex crimes attorneys include:

Sexual Assault: Sexual assault is sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim. Sexual assault includes rape, but not all sexual assault is rape. Sexual assault may include:

  • Unwanted sexual touching or fondling
  • Forced oral sex or penetration (rape)
  • Forcing a victim to perform sexual acts
  • Attempted rape

It’s important for survivors of sexual violence to remember that force is not always physical – it can be emotional or coercive. Force could be threatening to hurt someone, or tell another person or authorities about something if a person does not participate in a sexual act. According to the anti-sexual violence advocacy group and DLG partner organization RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), approximately eight out of 10 sexual assault perpetrators know their victims personally. Sexual assault can also include spousal rape or intimate partner violence.

Child Sexual Abuse: Child sexual abuse is any form of sexual activity with a minor. Because children cannot consent to sexual activity, engaging with a child in a sexual manner is a crime. Contact does not have to be physical. Text messages, online chats, and other digital interaction can be forms of abuse. RAINN reports that more than 90% of child sexual abuse victims know the abuser. Perpetrators may be family members, teachers, coaches, medical providers, or a parent of another child. No matter who the abuser may be, child sexual abuse is a crime.

Sexual Assault of Men and Boys: Anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender, or age, can be a victim of sexual assault and related acts of sexual violence. Boys and men who are assaulted can suffer the same psychological, emotional, and physical effects as other survivors, but also experience additional challenges due to social attitudes and stereotypes. For male survivors, the organization provides support and resources for dealing with social stigmas and healing.

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV): IPV is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as physical violence, sexual violence, stalking, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. This type of violence is not exclusive to any gender or sexual orientation, and an act of violence in an intimate relationship is rarely an isolated incident. Post-assault apologies and promises that something will never happen again are common themes, but rarely do behaviors change. Victims of IPV may be afraid to come forward for fear of children’s safety or effects on financial stability.

Incest: Incest is sexual abuse from a family member. This can be extremely difficult to talk about for many reasons:

  • The survivor may care about the abuser
  • The survivor may be afraid other family members will not believe them
  • Prior attempts by the survivor to discuss have been downplayed, minimized, or ignored
  • The survivor may have been groomed to believe that what happened was normal

Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault: Drug-facilitated sexual assault is a sexual act that occurs involving the use of drugs or alcohol. Alcohol or drug use can be:
Voluntary, followed by a perpetrator taking advantage of lowered inhibitions and ability to resist
Involuntary, forced by the victim or given without their knowledge – This could include date rate drugs being slipped into an alcoholic drink.

Self-Blame is a common reaction to a drug-facilitated sexual assault. Many survivors feel that they’re at fault for putting themselves in a dangerous situation. When these assaults occur, it is never, under any circumstances, the fault of the victim. People do not choose to be sexually assaulted.

Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is another broad term that includes unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors, often in a workplace or learning environment. Examples of sexual harassment can include:

  • Offering more favorable grades or workplace promotions in exchange for sexual favors (quid pro quo)
  • Requesting sexual favors, even if ignored
  • Pressuring someone to engage sexually
  • Sending explicit messages or photos via text, email, or an app platform
  • Making negative comments about groups of people

Harassment may or may not always be a criminal act, whereas sexual assault IS always a criminal act. Sexual harassment is often used in conjunction with “sexual misconduct,” which is a non-legal term to refer to numerous inappropriate sexual behaviors, which may or may not include harassment. For example, a CEO having a consensual relationship with an adult intern at work may be deemed sexual misconduct, and a violation of workplace policy, even if no crime is committed. A high school teacher having a sexual relationship with a student may be fired for sexual misconduct, and also face criminal charges for sexual assault.

Stalking: The Department of Justice (DOJ) defines stalking as engaging in a course of conduct directed at an individual that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety, the safety of others, or suffer substantial emotional distress. Stalking can be in person, online, or on social media. People who are stalked may feel anxious, nervous, stressed, and fear future acts of sexual violence.

Doctor/Medical Professional Sexual Abuse: Sexual abuse in a medical setting is a fundamental conflict with the Hippocratic Oath taken by medical professionals, and is a violation of trust, a violation of ethics, and a crime. Health care providers who commit sexual abuse may lose their license to practice medicine and face criminal charges. Complaints should be promptly brought to the appropriate licensing agency (Medical Board of California, Dental Board of California, California Board of Registered Nursing, etc.). Employing hospitals and medical groups may face civil liability for failing to discover or stop sexual abuse.

Sexual Exploitation by Helping Professionals: RAINN defines helping professionals as doctors, therapists, professors, law enforcement officers, lawyers, and religious leaders. Any act of sexual violence or assault by professionals is a violation of trust and may be a crime.

Sexual Elder Abuse: Sexual elder abuse is any kind of sexual abuse without the person’s consent. Acts may be forced or coerced, or elderly people with dementia may be confused or unable to give consent. For people in residential care facilities or nursing homes, sexual abuse may also be considered elder abuse under the law.

Sexual Abuse of People with Disabilities: A person with a disability may not be able to communicate consent, and perpetrators may take advantage of vulnerabilities, and use their position of power to force, coerce, or threaten someone into engaging in non-consensual sex or performing sexual activities.

How to File a Sexual Assault/Violence Lawsuit

Pursuing a damages award in civil court can be an opportunity for survivors of sexual assault to secure justice and move forward on their own terms. For a free and confidential consultation with a DLG sexual assault attorney, contact us today at 866-GO-SEE-SAM. Founded by former sex crimes prosecutor and member of RAINN’s National Leadership Council, Sam Dordulian, DLG offers survivors access to the very best legal representation available in combination with a 24/7 support network – the four-tiered SAJE Team (Sexual Assault Justice Experts).

DLG’s SAJE Team is comprised of dedicated professionals who have devoted their lives to helping survivors of sexual violence obtain the justice they deserve:

  • Litigation team of sexual assault lawyers headed by Sam Dordulian, a skilled trial attorney with more than 25 years of experience fighting for justice on behalf of survivors. Dordulian has secured more than 100 jury trial victories and helped clients obtain over $100,000,000.00 in settlements and verdicts.
  • An in-house Chief Investigator and retired LAPD sex crimes detective with nearly 30 years of experience.
  • A licensed and accredited victim advocate dedicated to assisting survivors of sexual assault, harassment, and abuse.
  • An in-house clinical therapist with more than 15 years of experience.

At DLG, we provide peace of mind through an unparalleled level of experience which generates proven results. Some of our recent sexual assault case victories include:

Our Sexual Assault Justice Experts are here to help survivors secure justice. Contact our top-rated attorneys online or by phone for a free consultation today.

Contact DLG’s SAJE Team today at 866-GO-SEE-SAM for your free, confidential, and no obligation consultation with a Los Angeles, California, sexual assault lawyer.

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