OBJECTIVE: We sought to determine the prevalence of sexual abuse among adolescent medical and nursing students who were attending a college in Punjab, India.
METHODS: Five hundred thirty-two subjects (150 male medical students, 220 female medical students, and 162 female nursing students) between 17 and 26 years old filled out a detailed questionnaire, in absolute privacy, to gather demographic and sexual abuse information.
RESULTS: of the participating students, 28.2% were male and 71.8% were female. The overall prevalence rate of any form of sexual abuse was 32.1% (171 subjects). A severe form of sexual abuse (intercourse) was reported by 30 subjects (10 among males and 20 among females). The most common type of abuse reported was in the form of showing pornographic material among male students (41 subjects [23%]) and touching of breasts (58 subjects [33.9%]) among females. The minimum age of victims at the time of the first incident was >16 years in 83 subjects (48.5%). The abuser was a friend in 32.1% (29 in males and 27 in females) of the cases. The perpetrators of sexual abuse were males for 132 subjects of both genders. In 56% (96 subjects), the time of abuse was between 2 and 10 pm. Forty-one subjects (23%) currently experience abuse memories in the form of unwanted scenes flashing in dreams, difficulty in maintaining relationships, feeling of guilt, fear, or nausea when touched, and disturbing sexual thoughts, alone or in combination.
CONCLUSIONS: These results provide baseline information on the prevalence and type of sexual abuse among adolescents. Abuse involved both genders, but the perpetrators were male. For nearly one fourth of the students the incident seems to have left a long-term psychological impact on the victim.
Submitted by Praveen Sobti
- Copyright © 2008 by the American Academy of Pediatrics