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Adolescents' Cues and Signals - Sex and Assault

NCJ Number
R Giarrusso; P Johnson; J Goodchilds; G Zellman
Date Published
12 pages
Findings from a survey focusing on the frequency of rape among acquainted adolescents are discussed.
Unlike stranger rape, acquaintance rape, particularly dating rape, takes place in the context of normal social activity. In 1978, 432 adolescents, ages 14-18, were interviewed in the Los Angeles area. The three major ethnic groups were equally represented, as were males and females. Attitudes toward the opposite sex, sexuality, sex roles, rape, power, and violence were measured along with behavioral expectations, perceptions, norms about dating, and sex differences in the acquisition of attitudes and expectations. Results showed that boys and girls possessed different perceptions of what interpersonal cues signaled sexuality and when, if ever, sexual assault was justified. The fact that males and females attributed different meanings to the same behaviors and contexts is particularly disturbing in light of the finding that adolescents seem relatively accepting of forced sex in certain circumstances. This suggests there may be resolution of such a conflict through the use of force and sets the stage for nonstranger rape. A total of three tables and five references are included. (Author abstract modified)