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Opening Arguments

Violent times

This is shocking:

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — A report showing that Indiana females in grades nine through 12 have the nation’s second-highest rate of forced sex is spurring calls for more education and prevention efforts.

A national analysis of sexual violence conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 17.3 percent of high school-age females in Indiana reported having forced sexual intercourse. The national average was 10.5 percent.

Indiana University researchers asked to analyze the findings say the numbers may not reflect the true scope of the problem because up to 50 percent of sexual assaults never get reported. In addition, Indiana is one of just three states — Mississippi and New Mexico are the others — that do not require law enforcement agencies to report sexual violence to the FBI.

It's shocking to me, at any rate, not because I'm so provincial I don't want to admit any problems in  our state, but because it never occurred to me that violence like this was one of those problems. And it gets even worse: We apparently have "the worst data in the country," which makes it hard to even determine why our figures are so bad. When there are studies like this, it is common to question the definitions used, and that's fair; how "sexual violence" is defined is crucial to our understanding of the problem. But however loose or rigid the definitions used, it's still significant that we rank where we do.


Mon, 04/09/2012 - 8:05pm

Not to question the gravity of the problem of forced sex among high school kids. But does it seem likely that any state, much less Indiana, would have a rate of attacks more than 50 percent higher than the national average? I have to wonder if a flaw will be discovered later in this report -- for instance, how the survey was conducted, or in the size and composition of the sample. Maybe the numbers themselves aren't so crucial, however. There seems to be a problem, and one hopes the kids' peers, parents, teachers and school administrators are doing something about it.