I recently reviewed a study by J. Livingston, A. Hequembourg, M. Testa, and C. VanZile-Tamsen, published in 2007 the article Unique Aspects of Adolescent Sexual Victimization Experiences in the Psychology of Women Quarterly, 31(4), 331-343. The writers of the above-cited article produced the research to study the susceptibility of adolescent females to unsolicited sexual experience with men and the reasons why those experiences occurred. The researchers began the study postulating from available data that adolescent women are more susceptible to sexual victimization than are mature women. The purpose of their findings was not to prove existing trends, but to categorize reasons that current trends for adolescent victimization among women and use that information to education men and women so that pitfalls for women in that category could be avoided.
Following will be my estimation of that study with perspective.
Scale and Survey Used
The researchers in this study used a few types of instruments to assist in discovering the information needed to begin the study. A telephone survey was conducted to find participants. A computer assisted survey introduced to the women who participated occurred at common facilities for the study to further target specific participants followed by interviews for those who answered questions positively on the scale for unwanted sexual experience—a yes or no question—who qualified for the study.
Women between the ages of 18 to 30 were identified over the phone to participate from various ethnicities in research, a longitudinal women’s study. Seventy-four percent of the women were single. Seventy-six percent identified as Caucasian; 15 % identified as African American or Black; All other groups individually including multi-racial groups individually who participated constituted less than five percent each. “Consistent with local demographics, median income was $40,000, and 91% were high school graduates (compared to 89% of 18- to 34-year-old women in Erie County). Most were employed either full time (46.9%) or part time (31.1%)” (2007, p.333).
The survey procedure the researchers used were based on the telephone survey which invited to participated in the longitudinal study of women who over a three-year period participated at 12-month intervals to provide information for processing. The researchers included in the journal only the data collection implicit to study. Phase one of the study occurred at the Research Institute on Addictions in Buffalo, NY, which consisted of the computer-administered questionnaires. The second part of Phase one information gathering occurred during firsthand interviews to assess personality and social aspects of the participants that lasted approximately two hours for participants in all for both parts. Participants profited by $50 and all interviews were taped and transcribed with informed consent—consent gathered prior to initiation of participation.
The survey sample size for the study, from which 61% of nearly two thousand eligible participants agreed, 38% of the participants responded affirmative to a singular or multiple questions on the Sexual Experience Survey. Of those who were selected, 369 women, most were on average 24 years of age with a difference of about three years form the average.
SIZE OF THE SURVEY POPULATION
Nearly 2000 women participated in the research study via the telephone but only 61% of them elected to participate in the survey. Obviously, a finite number of funds and labor existed to complete the study. As mentioned previously out of 2000 women candidates were selected to progress in the study.
RESPONSE RATE FROM THE SURVEY
As previously mentioned, 61% of surveyed participants willingly participated in the study. Of that 61%, 38% qualified for the study. The participation rate for the study was above 50% for the survey by phone giving the researchers a decent among of women to study. Of the final number of willing participates only 14 women were excluded for technical reason other than response or willingness to respond.
Does the Means Justify the Ends?
The researchers took care through a three-year long process carefully documenting the information over that period to make sure that participants were selected who could contribute to the study. In addition, the team of researchers kept all data from the study thought only included pertinent information for the study relating to discovering victimization data related to adolescent experiences of the over 300 who met the specification of the Sexual Experience Survey. Thirty percent of the participants experience pre-adult victimization or 112 participants. The researchers compared precursors, environment, for both groups that revealed victimization and verified their assumption that youth played a pivotal role in the type of situation an adolescent is likely raped. The Adolescent victims “adolescent girls were more likely than adult women to be victimized by a perpetrator with whom they were less acquainted, such as a stranger, acquaintance, or a friend” (p. 334), while adults, or those victimized 19 and above intimately knew their attackers.
The researchers used information factors such as intimate relationship, party/social gatherings, abusive or authority (parent, teacher, etc.) relationships and parent/guardian supervision to substantiate vulnerability. The adolescents according to the researchers usually were more enticing to predators due to the added fear of reputation and parental knowledge about an authorized rendezvous. Others were intimidated to a lesser degree by the authority of the aggressor or advantage of the aggressor.
“Consistent with lifestyles/routine activities theory” (p. 340) presented in the beginning of the article crediting it as the reason adolescent victimization occurs, the “results of the qualitative analysis revealed that adolescent girls are at risk of sexual victimization when they spend time in unsupervised contexts and engage in risky behavior, such as drinking at a party where there are no supervising adults present” (p. 340); however, not limited alone to that factor.
The researchers did a thorough examination of the participants using tools narrowing a potential large population down to over 300 subjects. The information was gathered over three years and catalogued to present the findings ins such a way as not to support assumptions, but mirror the qualitative data provided by the subjects. The fact that all interactions with subjects in the study were transcribed, recorded and catalogued by consensus revealed the scientific and objective approach to presenting the information.
Now what can be done with the information? This study provides evidence for assumptions that many adults already hold–that young women are targets because of social status. Teenagers like to sneak around and would rather lie about something happening to them than get caught by parents.
My solution to this problem is a strong ethical philosophy or religion practiced at home with clear boundaries and thorough practice and teaching. I can update my personal research on my own teens and see if it works. If I am still hubbing in ten years I can provide the update on how religion helped my daughters–or not.