In 2013, more than one in ten female high school students (11 percent) reported ever having been raped.
Sexual assault and rape are crimes that disproportionately affect females and young adults between the ages of 12 and 24. Adolescents and young adults are two to three times more likely than adults ages 25 and older to be raped or sexually assaulted.
The consequences of rape are similar for male and female victims. Physical injuries and symptoms, such as fatigue and chronic headaches, and emotional problems, such as suicide attempt and sexual dysfunction, are common. Many rape victims suffer from stress disorders, depression, and anxiety. Additionally, alcohol and drug abuse can become a problem for some victims. Youth who have been victims of sexual abuse are more likely to report sex with multiple partners in the past year, are less likely to report using contraception at last sexual intercourse, and are more likely to report ever having been pregnant or caused a pregnancy. Victims should be referred to counseling designed to address issues and trauma resulting from a rape.
While it is not possible to be completely protected from sexual assault, there are some factors that may increase the risk. Abuse of alcohol or drugs, especially late at night, may increase the likelihood of sexual assault. Avoiding isolated areas, especially late at night, being aware of one’s surroundings, and keeping alert by not listening to music with headphones can also help reduce the risk of sexual assault., However, ninety-three percent of reported juvenile victims of sexual assault know their attacker, and the percentage is higher among younger victims. 
In 2013, seven percent of all students in grades 9 through 12 reported having been raped at some time in their lives. Since 1999, the first year in which data were collected, percentages have remained relatively constant—between seven and nine percent. (Figure 1)
Differences by Gender
Female high school students are more than twice as likely as their male counterparts to report being raped: 11 and four percent, respectively, in 2013. This gap has also been fairly constant over time. (Figure 1)
Differences by Race and Hispanic Origin
In 2013, there were no significant differences by race or Hispanic origin among females; however, white males are about half as likely as Hispanic and black males to report having been raped (three versus five percent, each, in 2013). (Figure 2) Although in the past reports of rape among female Hispanic students were higher than in any other group, those rates have decreased significantly, from 15 percent in 1999 to 12 percent in 2013. (Appendix 1)
Differences by grade
Among females in 2013, ninth-graders were less likely than older students to report forced sexual intercourse: eight percent, compared with between 11 and 12 percent among older students. Among males, tenth-graders were less likely than older students to report forced sexual intercourse: three percent, compared with five and six percent among eleventh- and twelfth-graders, respectively. (Figure 3)
State and Local Estimates
2013 estimates of rape among high school students (Grades 9-12) are available for select states and cities from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS): see Table 20.
There are no international estimates available for rape prevalence among adolescents. However, a 2005 World Health Organization (WHO) study on sexual violence against women found widespread variation in the prevalence of women ever forced to have sexual intercourse with an intimate partner. The highest rates were found in Ethiopia and provincial Bangladesh (46 percent), while the lowest rates were reported in Serbia and Montenegro (four percent). No estimates are available for forced sex among non-partners.
Through its Healthy People 2020 initiative, the federal government has set a national goal to “reduce violence by current or former intimate partners” and to “reduce sexual violence: reduce rape or attempted rape; reduce abusive sexual contact other than rape or attempted rape; reduce noncontact sexual abuse.” This extends goals set through the Healthy People 2010 initiative which sought to reduce the rate of rape and attempted rape from a baseline rate of 0.8 for every 1,000 people ages 12 and older to a rate of 0.7. There are no specific goals for adolescents.
- Dating Violence
- Statutory Rape: Sex Between Young Teens and Older Individuals
- Violent Crime Victimization
- Child Maltreatment
- Children’s Exposure to Violence
- Sexually Experienced Teens
This indicator reports the percentage of students in grades 9 through 12 who answered yes to the following question: “Have you ever been physically forced to have sexual intercourse when you did not want to?”
In 1999, the question was phrased differently: “Have you ever been forced to have sexual intercourse when you did not want to?”
Students from California, Oregon, Washington, and Minnesota were not included in the survey in any year. Additionally, students from Colorado, Iowa, Indiana, and Pennsylvania were not included in the 2013 survey.
Note that this definition is different from the one used for rape/sexual assault in the DataBank indicator, Violent Crime Victimization.
Data for 2001-2013: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2014). 1991-2013 High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data. Accessed on 8/4/2014. Available at http://nccd.cdc.gov/youthonline/.
Data for 1999: US Department of Health and Human Services. (June 9, 2000). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 1999. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 49(5): Table 8. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/SS/SS4905.pdf
Raw Data Source
Youth Risk Behavior Survey
Appendix 1 – Percentage of High School Students1 Who Report They Have Ever Been Raped: Selected Years, 1999-2013
|Race/ Hispanic Origin|
|Race/ Hispanic Origin|
|*In 1999, question wording differed slightly from later years, and trends should be interpreted with caution.
1 Estimates do not include youth who dropped out of school and therefore may not reflect total national values. Students from California, Oregon, Washington, and Minnesota were not included in the survey in any year. Additionally, students from Colorado, Iowa, Indiana, and Pennsylvania were not included in the 2013 survey.
Sources: Data for 1999: US Department of Health and Human Services. (June 9, 2000). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 1999. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 49(5): Table 8. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/SS/SS4905.pdf Data for 2001-2013: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2014). 1991-2013 High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data. Accessed on 8/4/2014. Available at http://nccd.cdc.gov/youthonline/.
U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. (2012). Rates of rape/sexual assaults by age and sex, 2010. Generated using: NCVS
Victimization Analysis Tool. Available athttp://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm?ty=nvat
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. (2009). Understanding
sexual violence: Fact sheet.http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/SV_factsheet-a.pdf
National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. (2007). Sexual assault against females. Information on Trauma and
PTSD: Veterans, General Public & Family. Available at:http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/sexual-assault-females.asp
National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. (2007). Men and sexual trauma. Information on Trauma and PTSD: Veterans, General Public & Family. Available at:http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/men-sexual-trauma.asp
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control . (2009) Op. cit.
For a brief review of the recent literature, see Manlove, J., Terry-Humen, E., Romano Papillo, A., Franzetta, K., Williams, S., and Ryan, S. (2002). Background for community -level work on positive reproductive health in adolescence: Reviewing the literature on contributing factors. Report prepared for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. https://www.childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/KRepro.pdf
American Academy of Pediatrics: Committee on Adolescence. (2001). Care of the adolescent sexual assault victim, Pediatrics, 107 (6), 1476-1479.
Bisson, J. I. (2007). Post-traumatic stress disorder. Occupational Medicine, 57, 399-403. Available at: http://occmed.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/57/6/399
 Rape Abuse and Incest National Network. (2010). Ways to reduce your risk of sexual assault. Author: Washington, DC,.
 United States Department of Health and Human Services. (2010). Healthy People 2020. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Available at:http://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topicsobjectives2020/default.aspx
Snyder, H. N. (2000). Sexual assault of young children as reported to law enforcement: Victim, incident, and offender
characteristics. U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Retrieved fromhttp://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/saycrle.pdf
Hispanics may be any race. Totals for whites and blacks in this report do not include Hispanics.
United States Department of Health and Human Services. (2010). Op. Cit.
Child Trends Databank. (2014). Adolescents who have ever been raped. Available at: https://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=adolescents-who-have-ever-been-raped
Last updated: August 2014