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Sexual Assault Perpetration and Reperpetration: From Adolescence to Young Adulthood

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice and Behavior Volume: 31 Issue: 2 Dated: April 2004 Pages: 182-202
Date Published
April 2004
21 pages

This study examined the propensity for young adult males who are sexually aggressive in adolescence to carryover those behaviors into young adulthood.


In the mid-1980's the phenomenon of date rape began to receive attention. Research suggested that as many as 85 percent of all rapes were committed by men who were known to their victims and that many of these incidents occurred within a dating relationship between the principals. Related research studies indicated that men who experienced family and domestic violence and/or child sexual abuse were more likely to be coercive toward women, both sexually and physically. Research also showed that coercion of women was associated with delinquency and sexual promiscuity. The purpose of this study was to examine men’s sexually coercive behavior from adolescence through 4 years of college, with coercion being defined as unwanted sexual contact. Three incoming freshman college classes of males (ages 18 to 20 years) were the study sample and they were invited to participate in a 5 year longitudinal study of their social experiences. The majority of these men were from middle-class backgrounds and each signed a consent form and provided personal data for future contact purposes. They were required to respond to several surveys over the course of the study. The results of the study suggest two important factors. First, the young men’s experience with various forms of childhood victimization were associated with an increased risk of sexual assault perpetration during adolescence. Secondly, adolescence perpetration was an important precursor of collegiate victimization. For some, the current results suggest that childhood victimization and adolescence perpetration are precursors of collegiate sexual perpetration. A key finding was that men who were physically punished, sexually abused, or who witnessed domestic violence in childhood were at a greater risk for sexually aggressive behavior while in high school. Additionally, men who perpetrated in high school were at greater risk for perpetration in college; and after controlling for perpetration at high school, those who were abused or witnessed violence in childhood were not at greater risk for college perpetration. 4 tables, 36 references

Date Published: April 1, 2004