April 10, 2012
A CDC-conducted analysis of sexual violence found that 17.3 percent of Indiana high school girls reported forced sexual intercourse, compared with a national rate of 10.5 percent.
Indiana University (IU) researchers who analyzed the findings believe the figures may not accurately reflect the problem since up to 50 percent of sexual assaults are not reported. Furthermore, Indiana, Mississippi, and New Mexico are the only states that do not require law enforcement agencies to report sexual violence to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
A challenge is determining why the numbers are so high. "There are other more socially conservative states, more provincial states, certainly poorer states," said Jonathan Plucker, director of IU's Center for Evaluation & Education Policy. "But the data we have available to us just didn't allow us to figure out why our figures are so bad."
Plucker and Julia Heiman, director of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction, called for better ways to create, track, and fund community-wide sex education programs. Schools should develop more effective and age-appropriate programs and boost staff training, they said.
Toby Strout, executive director of the Bloomington-based Middle Way House, which works to end violence against women and children, said at least 80 percent of unwanted sexual activity involves people who know each other. "We're not talking about people jumping out from behind the bushes," he said.
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