Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 32, Issue 6, pp 465–477 | Cite as

The Nature and Predictors of Sexual Victimization and Offending Among Adolescents

  • Christopher D. Maxwell
  • Amanda L. Robinson
  • Lori A. Post


This study describes the risk factors associated with experiencing and committing sexual aggression among a sample of male and female adolescents. High school students completed a questionnaire containing a revised form of the Sexual Experiences Survey to assess sexual victimization and offending experiences. Ordinal regression equations were estimated separately for male and female students, regressing background characteristics, dating behaviors, and attitudinal scales on sexual victimization (for females) or offending (for males). Nearly half (48%) of the females report experiencing sexual aggression, and one-third (34%) of males admit committing this type of offending. Regression analyses show that the likelihood of reporting victimization/offending increases among females who report dating more frequently during the past month, among both males and females who report dating more different people during the past 6 months, and among older males. Females who report their religious affiliation as Protestants compared to those with no religious affiliation, and those planning to attend college are less likely to report victimization. Among the males, rejecting rape stereotypes and having more accurate legal knowledge regarding rape are related to reduced likelihoods of reporting sexual offending. Implications for improving sexual assault educational programs for adolescents are discussed.

adolescent sexual aggression sexual assault date rape intimate partner violence 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ageton, S. S. (1983). Sexual Assault Among Adolescents. Lexington Books, Lexington, MA.Google Scholar
  2. Awad, G. A., Saunders, E., and Levene, J. (1984). A clinical study of male adolescent sexual offenders. Int. J. Offender Ther. Comp. Criminol. 28: 105–115.Google Scholar
  3. Barbaree, H. E., Hudson, S. M., and Seto, M. C. (1993). Sexual assault in society: The role of the juvenile offender. In Barbaree, H. E., Marshall, W. L., and Hudson, S. M. (eds.), The Juvenile Offender. Guilford Press, New York, pp. 1–24.Google Scholar
  4. Bergman, L. (1992). Date violence among high school students. Soc. Work 37(1): 21–27.Google Scholar
  5. Burkhart, B. R., and Stanton, A. L. (1988). Sexual aggression in acquaintance relationships. In Russell, G. W. (ed.), Violence in Intimate Relationships. PMA Publishing, Costa Mesa, CA, pp. 43–65.Google Scholar
  6. Carmody, D. (1989, January 1). Increasing rapes on campus spur college to fight back. New York Times (New York, NY), p. 1.Google Scholar
  7. Cassidy, L., and Hurrell, R. M. (1995). The influence of victim's attire on adolescents' judgement of date rape. Adolescence. 30: 319–323.Google Scholar
  8. Crowell, N. A., and Burgess, A. W. (eds). (1996). Understanding Violence Against Women [Panel on Research on Violence Against Women, Committee on Law and Justice, Commission on Behavioral and Social Science and Education, National Research Council]. National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  9. Davis, T. C., Peck, G. Q., and Storment, J. M. (1993). Acquaintance rape in the high school students. J. Adolesc. Health 14: 220–224.Google Scholar
  10. Elliott, D. S., Ageton, S. S., Huizinga, D. H., Knowles, B. A., and Cantor, R. A. (1983). The Prevalence and Incidence of Delinquent Behavior: 1976–1980 The National Youth Survey. Behavioral Research Institute No. 26, Boulder, CO.Google Scholar
  11. Erickson, P. I., and Rapkin, A. J. (1991). Unwanted sexual experience among middle and high school youth. J. Adolesc. Health 12: 319–325.Google Scholar
  12. Fehrenbach, P. A., Smith, W., Monastersky, C., and Deisher, R. W. (1986). Adolescent sexual offenders: Offender and offense characteristics. Am. J. Orthopsychiatry 56: 225–233.Google Scholar
  13. Fisher, B. S., and Cullen, F. T. (2000). Measuring the sexual victimization of women: Evolution, current controversies, and future research. In Duffee, D. (Ed.), Measurement and Analysis of Crime and Justice (NCJ 182411, Vol. 4). Criminal Justice 2000, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  14. Foshee, V. A. (1996). Gender differences in adolescent dating abuse prevalence, types and injuries. Health Educ. Res.: Theory Pract. 11(3): 275–286.Google Scholar
  15. Goodchilds, J., Zellman, G., Johnson, P., and Giarusso, R. (1988). Adolescents and their perceptions of sexual interactions. In Burgess, A. W. (ed.), Rape and Sexual Assault (Vol. III). Garland, New York, pp. 245–270.Google Scholar
  16. Greenfeld, L. A. (1998). Alcohol and crime: An analysis of national data on the prevalence of alcohol involvement in crime. In NCJ 168632 Presented at the Assistant Attorney General's National Symposium on Alcohol Abuse and Crime, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  17. Hall, E. R., and Flannery, P. J. (1984). Prevalence and correlates of sexual assault experiences in adolescents. Victimology 9(3–4): 398–406.Google Scholar
  18. Jackson, S. M., Cram, F., and Seymour, F. W. (2000). Violence and sexual coercion in high school students' dating relationships. J. Fam. Violence 15(1): 23–36.Google Scholar
  19. Jenny, C. (1988). Adolescent risk-taking behavior and the occurrence of sexual assault. AJDJ 142: 770–772.Google Scholar
  20. Jezl, D. R., Molidor, C. E., and Wright, T. L. (1996). Physical, sexual and psychological abuse in high school dating relationships: Prevalence rates and self-esteem issues. Child Adolesc. Soc. Work J. 13(1): 69–87.Google Scholar
  21. Kanin, E. J. (1957). Male aggression in dating courtship relations. Am. J. Sociol. 63: 197–204.Google Scholar
  22. Kershner, R. (1996). Adolescent attitudes about rape. Adolescence 31(121): 29–33.Google Scholar
  23. Knight, R. A., and Prentky, R. A. (1993). Exploring characteristics for classifying juvenile sex offenders. In Barbaree, H. E., Marshall, W. L., and Hudson, S. M. (eds.), The Juvenile Sex Offender. Guilford Press, New York, pp. 45–83.Google Scholar
  24. Koss, M. P. (1989). Hidden rape: Sexual aggression and victimization in a national sample of students in higher education. In Pirog-Good, M. A., and Stest, J. E. (eds.), Violence in Dating Relationships: Emerging Social Issues. Praeger, New York, pp. 145–168.Google Scholar
  25. Koss, M. P., Gidycz, C. A., and Wisniewski, N. (1987). The scope of rape: Incidence and prevalence of sexual aggression and victimization in a national sample of higher education students. J. Counsel. Clin. Psychol. 55(2): 162–170.Google Scholar
  26. Koss, M. P., and Oros, C. J. (1982). Sexual experience survey: A research instrument investigating sexual aggression and victimization. J. Consult. Clin. Psychol. 80: 455–457.Google Scholar
  27. Lanier, C. A. (2001). Rape-accepting attitudes: Precursors to or consequence of forced sex. Violence Against Women 7(8): 876–885.Google Scholar
  28. Loeber, R., Farrington, D., and Stouthamer-Loeber-Magda, P. (1998). The development of male offending: Key findings from the first decade of the Pittsburgh Youth Study. Stud. Crime Crime Prev. 7(2): 141–171.Google Scholar
  29. Marciniak, L. M. (1998). Adolescent attitudes toward victim precipitation of rape. Violence Vict. 13(3): 287–300.Google Scholar
  30. Miller, B., and Marshall, J. C. (1987). Coercive sex on the university campus. J. Coll. Stud. Pers. 28: 38–46.Google Scholar
  31. Molidor, C., and Tolman, R. M. (1998). Gender and contextual factors in adolescent dating violence. Violence Against Women 4(2): 180–194.Google Scholar
  32. Moore, K. A., Nord, C. W., and Peterson, J. L. (1989). Nonvoluntary sexual activity among adolescents. Fam. Plann. Perspect. 21(3): 110–114.Google Scholar
  33. Muehlenhard, C. L., and Linton, M. A. (1987). Date rape and sexual aggression in dating situations: Incidence and risk factors. J. Couns. Psychol. 34(2): 186–96.Google Scholar
  34. Neufeld, J., McNamara, J. R., and Ertl, M. (1999). Incidence and prevalence of dating partner abuse and its relationship to dating practices. J. Interpers. Violence 14(2): 125–137.Google Scholar
  35. O'Keefe, M. (1997). Predictors of dating violence among high school students. J. Interpers. Violence 12(4): 546–568.Google Scholar
  36. O'Keefe, M., and Treister, L. (1998). Victims of dating violence among high school students. Violence Against Women 4(2): 195–223.Google Scholar
  37. Population Estimates Program, U.S. Census Bureau. (2001). Resident Population Estimates of the United States by Age and Sex: April 1, 1990 to July 1, 1999, With Short-Term Projection to November 1, 2000. Retrieved October 11, 2001, from: Scholar
  38. Proto-Campise, L., Belknap, J., and Woolredge, J. (1998). High school students' adherence to rape myths and the effectiveness of high school rape-awareness programs. Violence Against Women 4(3): 308–328.Google Scholar
  39. Rhynard, J., Krebs, M., and Glover, J. (1997). Sexual assault in dating relationships. J. Sch. Health 67: 89–93.Google Scholar
  40. Righthand, S., and Welch, C. (2001). Juveniles Who Have Sexually Offended: A Review of the Professional Literature. Office of Juvenile Justice and Deliquency Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice (65), Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  41. Schubot, D. B. (2001). Date rape prevalence among female high school students in a rual midewestern state during 1993, 1995, and 1997. J. Interpers. Violence 16(4): 291–296.Google Scholar
  42. Silverman, J. G., Raj, A., Mucci, L. A., and Hathaway, J. E. (2001). Dating violence against adolescent girls and associated substance use, unhealthy weight control, sexual risk behaviors, pregnancy, and sucidality. J. Am. Med. Assoc. 286(5): 572–579.Google Scholar
  43. Small, S. A., and Kerns, D. (1993). Unwanted sexual activity among peers during early and middle adolescence: Incidence and risk factors. J. Marr. Fam. 55(4): 941–952.Google Scholar
  44. Snyder, H. N. (2000). Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement: Victim, Incident, and Offender Characteristics (Bureau of Justice Statistics). U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  45. Snyder, H. N., and Sickmund, M. (1999). Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 1999 National Report. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  46. Spitzberg, B. H. (1999). An analysis of empirical estimates of sexual aggression victimization and perpetration. Violence Vict. 14(3): 241–260.Google Scholar
  47. Tjaden, P., and Thoennes, N. (1998). Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women: Findings From the National Violence Against Women Survey (Research in Brief No. NCJ 172837). Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice (15), Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  48. Ullman, S. E., Karabatsos, G., and Koss, M. P. (1999). Alcohol and sexual assault in national sample of college women. J. Interpers. Violence 14(6): 603–625.Google Scholar
  49. Vicary, J., Klingaman, L. R., and Harkness, W. L. (1995). Risk factors associated with date rape and sexual assault of adolescent girls. J. Adolesc. 18: 289–306.Google Scholar
  50. Vogel, B. L. (2000). Correlates of pre-college males' sexual aggressions. Women Crim. Justice 11(3): 25–47.Google Scholar
  51. White, J., and Kowalski, R. M. (1998). Violence against women: An integrative perspective. In Geen, R., and Donnerstein, E. (eds.), Perspective on Human Aggression. Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  52. Xenos, S., and Smith, D. (2001). Perceptions of rape and sexual assault among Australian adolescents and young adults. J. Interpers. Violence 16(11): 1103–1119.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher D. Maxwell
    • 1
  • Amanda L. Robinson
    • 2
  • Lori A. Post
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Criminal JusticeInstitute for Children, Youth and FamiliesUSA
  2. 2.Criminology and Criminal Justice atCardiff University, School of Social ScienceCardiffUK
  3. 3.Violence and Intentional Injury Prevention Program at the Institute for Children, Youth, and FamiliesMichigan State UniversityEast Lansing

Personalised recommendations