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Teen girls who engage in group sex are often coerced, study says

By Rheana Murray

NY Daily News, August 31, 2012

More than 7% of teen girls have engaged in multi-person sex, a new study reports – and half of them said they were threatened or forced into the act.

The most shocking detail of the study, which was published in the Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine, is the number of women who reported having been coerced into multi-person sex.

Of the 7.3% who admitted to having multi-person sex (MPS), 52% reported being pressured, and 43% reported being threatened or forced.

Emily Rothman, an associate professor of community health sciences at Boston University Health Medical Center, conducted the study by polling 328 females between the ages of 14 and 20, at community or school health clinics in the Boston area.


She used the term “multi-person sex” to include both consensual acts, like group sex or threesomes, as well as forced occurrences like gang rape.

“The majority of MPS-experienced girls in this sample reported being pressured, threatened, coerced, or forced to participate in MPS at least once,” Rothman said in a statement.

“Given the substantial proportion of girls who reported that their MPS was nonconsensual, additional research to understand more about the perpetrators, and how to prevent this particular form of sexual violence, is warranted.”

There was also a link between teenage girls who had had multi-person sex and pornography, she says.

"[MPS] seems strongly linked to being forced to do something that their partner saw on pornography," Rothman said to the Daily News. "It raises questions about what that connection is."

Subjects who had watched porn in the past month were about five times as likely as those who had steered clear from the X-rated flicks to have group sex, the authors said.

Girls with MPS experience are also more likely to be victims of dating violence, smoke cigarettes or get an STD, according to the research.

“For us, the most worrisome thing is that in 45 percent of the girls’ most recent MPS experience, at least one male had not used a condom,” Rothman said. “That’s a really high rate.”

The average age of girls’ first MPS experience was 15.6 years old.

Rothman says the solution lies in education.

“We need to find out more about how prevalent this is, because we need to get better information into the hands of parents, pediatricians and schools,” she said. “People need to know about what’s happening. And then be prepared to provide education and counseling.”

She stresses that school programs about healthy relationships and sexual activity have been proven to work – administrators just need to implement them into schedules and budgets.

“Hopefully these types of findings will inspire schools to make time to [include] relationship and sexuality education,” she said. “And that parents will not object to it, that they will understand it’s important to happen in schools.

“I think we have the tools to address this. We just need to support the programming and prevention tools that can make a difference.”

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Gina Ravosa
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The New York Academy of Medicine
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