FRIDAY, March 28, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly half of young males reported being pressured or forced into unwanted sexual activity, according to a new U.S. study.
The survey of nearly 300 college and high school students found those who were sexually coerced while drunk or drugged showed significant distress.
The findings were published online March 17 in the journal Psychology of Men and Masculinity.
"Sexual victimization continues to be a pervasive problem in the United States, but the victimization of men is rarely explored," lead author Bryana French, of the University of Missouri, said in a journal news release.
"Our findings can help lead to better prevention by identifying the various types of coercion that men face and by acknowledging women as perpetrators against men," French added.
Researchers surveyed 284 young males, aged 14 to 26. They found that 43 percent reported having an unwanted sexual experience. In 95 percent of those cases, a female acquaintance was the aggressor.
Among those who had unwanted sexual activity, 18 percent said they were physically forced, 31 percent said they were verbally coerced and 26 percent said it was the result of "unwanted seduction by sexual behaviors." Seven percent said drugs or alcohol were involved.
Half of them had sex, 10 percent said there was attempted sex, and 40 percent said the unwanted sexual activity was limited to kissing or fondling. Being coerced into intercourse was associated with risky sex and more drinking by the victims, the study authors noted.
Sexual coercion was reported more often by Hispanic males than whites or blacks. Forty percent of Hispanic students reported sexual coercion, compared with 22 percent of blacks, 19 percent of whites and 8 percent of Asian Americans.
The researchers also found that having unwanted sex did not seem to affect young males' self-esteem.
"It may be the case that sexual coercion by women doesn't affect males' self-perceptions in the same way that it does when women are coerced," French said in the news release. "Instead it may inadvertently be consistent with expectations of masculinity and sexual desire, though more research is needed to better understand this relationship."
Examples of coercion included partners threatening to break off relationships, encouraging alcohol consumption, threatening to use or using a weapon, and sexual touching in an attempt to overcome a lack of interest in sex.
The American Academy of Pediatrics outlines ways for teens to resist sexual pressure.
SOURCE: Psychology of Men and Masculinity, news release, March 25, 2014
-- Robert Preidt
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