Youngsters easiest prey for sexual assaults

Washington, May 31 (ANI): Young people-both male and female-are the most likely targets of rape and other sexual assaults, a Penn State criminologist has claimed.

According to Richard Felson, professor of criminology and sociology, the most frequent victims of those assaults are 15 years old, regardless of gender, or the age of the offender.

Older people and women rarely commit the crime, but when they do, their most frequent victims are still 15 years old.

"People tend to look at sexual assault almost exclusively as a crime against women, but this study shows that there is a different way of looking at the crime," Felson said.

Females who are 15 years old are about nine times more likely than 35-year-old females to be raped, and about 4.75 times more likely to be raped than 25-year-old females, according to the researchers.

A 15-year-old boy is more likely to be a victim of a sexual assault than a 40-year-old woman.

Felson said that male behavior during robberies tends to reinforce the findings that age influences sexual assault.

The researchers said that the sexual attractiveness of young people, as well as their vulnerability and active social lives, are important factors in placing them at high risk for sexual assaults.

Sexual attractiveness is the leading explanation for the age of sexual assault victims, Felson, who worked with Patrick Cundiff, a doctoral student in criminology and sociology, said.

Male attraction to younger females can be seen in the high number of young women in modeling, prostitution and the adult entertainment industry, the researchers said.

Prior studies also show that compensation for female sex workers declines as women age.

Evidence on sexual assaults that occur during robberies suggests that sexual attractiveness is an important element explaining the victimization of young people.

"During a robbery, a man is much more likely to also engage in a rape if the age of the victim is between 15 and 29," Felson said.

The findings are published online in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior. (ANI)

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