Study: Sexual Assault Definition Less Understood by Young People

Some sexual assault behaviors were mislabelled by large percentages of people aged 18-34.
Published: April 14, 2017

A new study shows that older people are more familiar with what constitutes sexual assault than younger people.

Although a high percentage of all age groups correctly labelled many behaviors as sexual assault, people aged 18-34 were less likely to recognize sexual assault in certain circumstances, reports USA Today.

For instance, while 82 percent of respondents aged 55 and older believe sex with someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol is sexual assault, just 64 percent of people aged 18-34 agree.

The younger age group also scored lowly labelling sexual assault behaviors like uncalled-for verbal sexual comments (46 percent believe it constitutes sexual assault) and watching someone in a private act without their knowledge (56 percent).

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The study was conducted in March by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. The group conducted an online survey of 1,221 adults in the U.S.

RELATED: Survey: 15 Percent of UT Austin Female Students Raped

The Department of Justice defines sexual assault as “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.”

Luckily, younger adults properly identified many forms of sexual assault. Most young people said sexual intercourse without a partner’s consent is sexual assault (84 percent). Additionally, unwanted groping, touching or fondling was identified as sexual assault by 83 percent of 18-34 respondents.

Other high percentages of correct answers by young adults include sex trafficking (77 percent identified it as sexual assault); child pornography (77 percent); and incest (78 percent).

The authors of the study recommend schools increase sexual assault training and educational programs for students.

“Adults of all ages should be able to identify sexual assault in its many forms, whether verbal assault, intercourse where one partner does not give consent, or unwanted touching, such as groping or fondling,” NSVRC CEO Delilah Rumburg said.

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