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Teen Sexual Assault Survivors: Legal Impacts and Considerations

Download this publicationYouth between the ages of twelve and eighteen suf­fer the highest rates of sexual violence. Our own state survey tells us that 80% of the respondents were as­saulted before the age of eighteen.

Teens sometimes are considered invisible to many of us. They lack status as adults yet often don't receive the sympathy easily given to younger children who are sexually abused. In the legal arena it is common for teens to be blamed at least partially for their victimization because often the victimization is comingled with other status offense crimes such as truancy or under age drinking.

Studies show that teen victims of crime receive less support and poorer police response than adult victims of crime. Teens are caught in a limbo world where they are con­stantly striving to establish their independence, while also managing school, negotiating their sexuality and maturing into adulthood. Often parents and adults are perceived as untrustworthy or just irrelevant to their daily lives.

As we seek to empower teens in our respec­tive communities, it is paramount that we understand the different legal rights afforded teens. Youth have rights and deserve our respect. We have the responsi­bility to provide young people with the tools they need to be free from sexual violence.

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Reviewed: July 11th, 2016