Primary Sources: Could Protecting Boys From Sexual Abuse Also Prevent Teen Pregnancy?

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The Relationship Between Sexual Abuse and Risky Sexual Behavior Among Adolescent Boys: A Meta-Analysis” (abstract). Journal of Adolescent Health, Vol. 51, Issue 1 (July 2012).

What it’s about: The authors wanted to find out how likely it is that a boy who is sexually abused will, as a teen, have risky sex or get someone pregnant. To investigate the connection, the authors analyzed and compared 33 studies on teen sexual health.

Why read it: Research has found a connection between being sexually abused as a child or teen and having unprotected sex, having multiple sex partners, and getting pregnant or getting someone pregnant as a teen. But much of the research on and analysis of this link has focused on teen girls. This study attempts to uncover the extent of the link between boys’ experiences of sexual abuse and later sexual risk-taking.

Biggest takeaways for youth workers: On average, sexually abused boys were nearly five times more likely than their peers to say they had gotten someone pregnant. By comparison, the authors reference a 2009 research analysis which found sexually abused girls to be about twice as likely as their peers to get pregnant.

The researchers on the current study found that sexually abused boys were also about twice as likely as their peers to not use condoms and nearly three times as likely to have multiple sex partners.  

The authors recommend including boys in sexual abuse prevention efforts, raising awareness about sexual abuse of boys, and screening all young people for abuse.

Additional references: The Ten-Question Tool, developed by researchers in Minnesota, helps determine if young people have been sexually abused. NCFY interviewed the tool’s lead author earlier this year.

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