1 in 10 Young Adults Admits to Sexual Violence
Violent pornography may be partially to blame, researcher says
These tactics work because children are not getting enough education at home or at school regarding sexual relationships, said Susan Tortolero, a professor of public health at the University of Texas School of Public Health, in Houston.
"In this country, we aren't talking at all about healthy sexual relationships," Tortolero said. "Most of the time, we're just telling kids not to have sex. People don't know how to talk about sex, so almost always people are having sex without explicit consent. If we could teach kids how to give explicit consent, then they might be more protected."
Dr. Angela Diaz, director of Mount Sinai Hospital's Adolescent Health Center, in New York City, said sex education can teach potential perpetrators to respect others' bodies and accept "no" for an answer, and can also teach potential victims to better recognize the tactics used to coerce sex.
"They may say, 'Unless you have sex with me, I'm going to go have sex with someone else,'" Diaz said. "Young people have to learn that if their partner says that, maybe they're better off if they do go somewhere else."
Some focus also needs to be placed on the role of violent pornography, Ybarra said.
She said pornography itself does not seem to play a role. Comparable numbers of perpetrators and non-perpetrators said they had watched non-violent pornography.
But only 3 percent of non-perpetrators said they had watched pornography that involved violence, compared with 17 percent of perpetrators.
"It's not pornography generally that seems to be concerning, it's the pornography that portrays violence in sexual situations," Ybarra said.
Ybarra said any education campaign also needs to focus on the role of bystanders who hear about sexual violence but do not report it.
"We need sexual-violence-prevention programs in the high school and middle school settings that tell young people, 'If you hear something, if you know something, you must get involved,'" she said.