Predictors of Sexual Coercion and Alcohol Use among Female Juvenile Offenders
Elizabeth A. Yeater, Erika A. Montanaro, Angela D. Bryan
Journal of Youth and Adolescence
Female juvenile offenders report high rates of sexual coercion and substance use, yet the temporal relationship between the two remains unclear. The focus of this study was to conduct a prospective examination of predictors of sexual coercion and substance use for a group of high-risk young women. Two hundred and forty five adolescent females (34 % of a sample including males and females), between the ages of 14–17, and from a larger study of juvenile offenders, were recruited from juvenile probation offices to participate in a longitudinal study on substance use and sexual risk. At baseline, participants completed measures associated with increased risk for sexual coercion, including substance use, perceived relationship control, and externalizing behavior. At 6- and 24-month follow-up, participants also completed a measure assessing sexually coercive experiences. Path analysis revealed that less relationship control at baseline predicted sexual coercion at 6-months. Additionally, 6-month sexual coercion predicted alcohol use and sexual coercion at 24-month follow-up. Logistic regression analysis revealed also that alcohol use at 6-months predicted sexual revictimization at 24-months. Sexual coercion appears to be associated with subsequent increases in alcohol use, suggesting that female juvenile offenders may be using alcohol to cope with the psychological and emotional consequences of victimization. Alcohol use is linked to increased risk for repeat sexual coercion, suggesting that exposure to risky environments also may be important in understanding these girls’ risk. Difficulties responding assertively in sexual relationships (i.e., low relationship control) also seem to increase female juvenile offenders’ risk for sexual coercion. Finally, previous sexual coercion appears to increase risk for future victimization, highlighting the importance of early intervention for this at-risk group.