Some Swedish, Norwegian and baltic statistics on sexual abuse amongst youths

This is from a comment I made a short while back on FeministCritics, I shortly discuss the shortcomings of the Swedish Crime Survey from BRÅ in regards to sexual assault and rape statistics and also mention the NOVA (Norwegian Social Research) Report titled “The Baltic Sea Regional Study on Adolescents’ Sexuality”. The most startling find of that report is that Polish boys are three times as likely to have experienced sexual abuse in the form of intercourse than girls. I also note that the NOVA Report cites the paper “Adolescent sexual aggression: risk and protective factors” by Borowski, Hogan, Ireland published in Pediatrics 1997 Dec;100(6):E7.

Here it is:

I took a look at the Swedish Crime Survey (both the english summary and the full swedish one and the first thing I noticed is that it doesn’t break sex crimes into sub-categories, the question asked on the survey is said to be this;

Ofredade, tvingade eller angrep någon dig sexuellt under förra
året (2011)? Det gäller både allvarliga och mindre allvarliga
händelser, till exempel hemma, på jobbet, i skolan eller på någon
allmän plats.

which I translated into:

Did anyone harass, force or attacked you in a sexual manner in the last year (2011)? This question covers both serious and less serious incidents, for instance at home, at work, at school or some public space.

Ofredat can also translate to “molest” according to Google translate, but my understanding in this context (force or attack seem to cover molest) warrants translating it to harass. You (rationell) can perhaps correct or validate that?

0.3% of men and 1.1% of women answered yes to that question.

In short this survey tells us nothing about rape – except for a theoretical upper limit of rape (0.3% of men and 1.1% of women) for a certain year (2011). When we look a for instance NISVS 2010 we see that women do report a much higher rate of sexual offences like “Unwanted sexual contact” (touch, but not penetration, like kisses and groping) and “Non-contact unwanted sexual experiences” (harassment, flashing, making the victim undress etc.). Could this explain some of the difference between 0.3% and 1.1% and leave us with a lesser difference between male and female victims of rape? The NTU/SCS does not provide any answers. Neither does the NTU/SCS state anything about the gender of the perpetrator.

This page at BRÅ states that 98% of those suspected of rape is men while only 2% are women. They do not say where these numbers come from (it’s hinted at the NTU/SCS, but that one doesn’t have a category for rape, only for the superset “sexual offenses” and doesn’t report the gender of the perpetrator), but the use of the word “suspected” makes me wonder if this is from the statistics of cases reported to the police. And given that is is commonly held amongst researchers (at least in Norway) that male victims underreport to the police to a larger extent than female victims then the 98%/2% (reported to the police) wouldn’t be really surprising to me.

This NOVA report titled “The Baltic Sea Regional Study on Adolescents’ Sexuality” did look at Swedish adolescents. It is a large report and I haven’t read thouroughly through all yetm but after a quick reading I wanted to point out these things:

page 34
10.1% of boys and 2.4% of girls in Sweden reported having “dragged, persuaded, pressed or forced someone into sexual activities”.

Due to the possibility of the word “persuaded” describing acts that aren’t abusive this finding is unfortunately not as solid as I’d like.

Of interest: They also cite this large US/Minnesote survey from 1997 (70.000 students) which I hadn’t heard of before which found that:

A history of sexual violence perpetration was reported by 4.8% of male and 1.3% of female adolescents.

Also according to the NOVA report Swedish boys are experiencing sexual abuse less than half the time Norwegian boys are (page 35). I wonder why this discrepancy? I can see why there is one between for instance Norway and Poland (pretty large difference in culture, but was surprised at the difference between Norway and Sweden).

Speaking of Poland, boys were about three times as likely as girls (25.1% vs 8.4%) to experience sexual abuse in the form of sexual intercourse (oral and anal intercourse were separate categories). I would think that sexual intercourse if it’s not overlapping with anal and oral intercourse should mean vaginal intercourse and then implies a female perpertrator for those Polish boys – I emphasize that that is an interpretation by me.

On page 69 it is stated that 13% of all perpetrators were female (and in all cases with a female perpetrator the boy was a victim). The report doesn’t state how many of the boy victims are victimized by a woman, but we have the following numbers of victims (also on page 69):

Girls: 53 + 143 + 87 = 283
Boys: 54

So boys make up about 20% of the victims. If 13 percent of the perpetrators are women and all of their victims are boys then almost 2/3 of the boys reported a female perpetrator.

I have previously digged a bit into the numbers in the Norwegian part if this survey (which was published in a separate NOVA report in Norwegian) in this comment at Genderratic where I also discussed the way “being made to penetrate” is categorised in the Crime Survey for England and Wales.

3 thoughts on “Some Swedish, Norwegian and baltic statistics on sexual abuse amongst youths

  1. Hm. The Polish results are surprising. I would like to take a closer look at it when i will have time. For now i can only say that they misspelled the War(s)zawa, and that Izdebski is respectable researcher.

    I am Polish, btw.

  2. The Polish study has 75 additional question, written by Izdebski (who, btw, is a co-founder of an anti-child sexual abuse NGO, which also ordered the Polish part of the survey)

    Heh, i just remembered that there was a somewhat big controversy about these studies, raised by, lets say, moral guardians (protecting innocent children from being asked questions such as if they masturbate), i even watched poor Izdebski witchhunted in a TV political debate programme.

    And the interpretation section of the report made me cringe sometimes. Seriously, report, putting 20% country into a category with two 60% countries and not two 12% countries? Geez.

    Cant find more than a small summary online, sadly. I might simply write Izdebski, because these numbers are really weird.

    I might also ask him about why the statistics were all over the place, because i agree with you that the large differences between countries make no sense.

  3. Hi TMK, what additional questions did the Polish study have? Is this information in the document Tamen linked above? I didn’t see it, if so. Perhaps there are separate papers published on each country’s survey results?

    And also it’d be very interesting to ask the polish researcher whatever questions you have. It’d be interesting to know what information they can offer.

    And I can only agree that the differences between countries are very confusing. It’s well known that small changes to the wording of these kinds of surveys can make a big difference to how people answer. Possibly the translations produced versions of the questions that had different connotations in each language? Who knows really. Would be really interesting to have a conversation with the researcher(s) and find out what their opinion is.

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