This study on sexual abuse questioned 17 year olds in Sweden:
Peer abuse was excluded by the definitions used.
The overall response rate was 92.2% for students and 44.2% for school dropouts.
Among male and female students, 3.1% and 11.2%, respectively, acknowledged sexual abuse,
2.3% and 7.1%, respectively, when exhibitionism was excluded.
Mean age at onset was 9.1 y (SD 4.3) for boys and 9.0 y (SD 3.9) for girls;
1.2% of the boys and 3.1% of the girls reported abusive oral, vaginal and/or anal intercourse.
Suicide attempts or other acts of self-harm were reported by 33.3% of the male students reporting abuse and by 5.1% of those who had not been abused,
and by 30.4% of the abused student girls compared to 9.1% of the non-abused.
Sleep and eating disorders, use of alcohol at an early age and/or experimentation with illicit drugs and consensual coitarche (loss of virginity) before age 15 y was reported significantly more often by abused than non-abused girls, differences not found among the student boys).
|Saeturna School, Marsta, Stockholm|
Of the abused girls, 49% reported abusive vaginal intercourse and 64% reported self-destructive behaviour or suicide attempts.
These are scary numbers! If there are 100,000 girls out of school and 28% of them had been sexually abused, that would mean 28,000 sexual abuses (remember 75% of sexually abused children are repeatedly abused).
Then, also, nearly 14,000 of those girls will have suffered full-blown rape!
Also, 18,000 girls would attempt suicide or other self-harm behaviour.
No abused boys and few abused girls had confided in a teacher, health professional or social worker.
Results from the student sample should be interpreted as markers of "minimum prevalence", as female school non-attenders report significantly higher prevalence of sexual abuse.
This is probably a chicken or egg thing. Many of the kids who dropped out of school probably did so because they were sexually abused, though they might not realize that themselves.
Consequently, the markedly better numbers for those in school are most likely due to the dropping out of many of those who were abused.
Potential high-risk groups are better included in prevalence investigations of child sexual abuse. The fact that so few adolescents confided in "professionals" about the abuse, despite having severe symptoms and signs of distress, underlines the need to address sexual abuse when recording the social, medical and psychiatric histories of adolescents.