Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Calculating the Risk: Child Sexual Assault

Date:
November 5, 2013
Source:
University of Iowa
Summary:
Affluent girls residing in two-parent homes are much less likely to be sexually assaulted than other female youth, according to a new study.

Affluent girls residing in two-parent homes are much less likely to be sexually assaulted than other female youth, according to a new study from the University of Iowa. The research revealed that when family income reaches 400 percent of the poverty threshold, or around $92,000 for a four-person household, the risk of sexual assault declines by more than half.

The study conducted by UI School of Social Work professor Amy Butler examined sexual assault in more than 1,000 girls aged 17 and younger, across all income levels. It relied on data obtained from the ongoing Panel Study of Income Dynamics -- a national survey of families begun in 1968 and directed by University of Michigan faculty.

Unlike other analyses that examine data gathered after a sexual assault has occurred, Butler's study looked at risk factors related to behavior, family history, and parental income that were measured prior to an assault, giving the work potentially predictive value.

"It's important to have clear before and after measures," Butler says.

Published in the International Journal of Child Abuse & Neglect, the study showed that the risk of sexual assault for girls between the ages of four and 17 declined from 12.3 to 5.6 percent once income reached 400 percent or more of the poverty threshold.

Her analysis also confirmed previous research that showed girls whose mothers had at least a high-school education and whose biological parents were both present from birth to age one had a lower risk of sexual assault.

Nationwide, one in 10 girls is sexually assaulted, according to Butler's study. This compares to one in five girls who are victims of sexual abuse -- a term often encompassing a broader range of inappropriate behavior that can include voyeurism or verbal pressure for sex -- as reported by the advocacy organization, the National Center for Victims of Crime. While reasons behind a decreased risk of sexual assault for young females in economically comfortable, two-parent households are not yet known, Butler notes there may be several possible explanations.

For example, factors that might enable some parents to achieve higher socioeconomic status -- e.g. having children later in life -- could be tied to personal characteristics like enhanced maturity levels that are then passed down to their children. Education appears to play a role as well.

"It is possible that educated, two-parent families can better afford to raise their children in safe neighborhoods, send them to safe schools, and ensure that their activities are well supervised, thereby decreasing their risk for sexual assault," Butler writes.

"Alternatively, the personal characteristics that may enable some parents to achieve higher socio-economic status may be transmitted to the daughter through heredity and parental modeling, thereby reducing her risk."

Butler's research helps establish that many risk factors identified in retrospective studies (those conducted after the fact) are accurate predictors of whether a girl will experience childhood sexual assault.

Her analysis found that girls with extremely low math and reading scores, and those referred to special education programs were more likely than their peers to experience an assault. It also confirmed that girls who -- according to their caregivers -- were shy, withdrawn, had impulsive tendencies or expressed feelings of worthlessness were more prone to sexual assault.

The study further outlined that many mental health disorders found in victims and survivors of assault appear to be a result of their experience with rape. Butler is conducting additional analysis to research this link and others. She is hopeful that her study will open the doors for more young women to discuss sexual assault, and encourage them to find support and assistance.

And though her research focuses on risk factors in girls, she is quick to note that victims are never to blame. "Perpetrators hone their skills to entrap girls. No one enters a situation expecting to be sexually assaulted," says Butler.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Iowa. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Amy C. Butler. Child sexual assault: Risk factors for girls. Child Abuse & Neglect, 2013; 37 (9): 643 DOI: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2013.06.009

Cite This Page:

University of Iowa. "Calculating the Risk: Child Sexual Assault." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131105171340.htm>.
University of Iowa. (2013, November 5). Calculating the Risk: Child Sexual Assault. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131105171340.htm
University of Iowa. "Calculating the Risk: Child Sexual Assault." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131105171340.htm (accessed August 30, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Who Could Be Burnt by WHO's E-Cigs Move?

Who Could Be Burnt by WHO's E-Cigs Move?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 28, 2014) The World Health Organisation has called for the regulation of electronic cigarettes as both tobacco and medical products. Ciara Lee looks at the impact of the move on the tobacco industry. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
JPMorgan Chase Confirms Possible Cyber Attack

JPMorgan Chase Confirms Possible Cyber Attack

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 28, 2014) Attackers stole checking and savings account information and lots of other data from JPMorgan Chase, according to the New York Times. Other banks are believed to be victims as well. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Director On Ebola Outbreak: 'It's Worse Than I Feared'

CDC Director On Ebola Outbreak: 'It's Worse Than I Feared'

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) CDC director Tom Frieden says the Ebola outbreak is even worse than he feared. But he also said there's still hope to contain it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN: Ebola Cases Could Eventually Reach 20,000

UN: Ebola Cases Could Eventually Reach 20,000

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) The Ebola outbreak in West Africa eventually could exceed 20,000 cases, more than six times as many as are known now, the World Health Organization said as the US announced plans to test an experimental Ebola vaccine. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins