Feb. 26 (UPI) — Sex attacks on teen girls rose during lockdown measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The trend was identified in the CDC’s report on its Youth Risk Behavior Survey, published by the agency on Feb. 14.
The survey is given every two years to a sample of more than 17,000 U.S. high school students and the report from 2021 data marks the first since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
“Several experiences of violence are increasing, especially for certain groups of youth,” the report reads.
“These data show increases in the proportion of youth who did not go to school because of safety concerns, increases among female students experiencing sexual violence by anyone and being forced to have sex, and increases among male students experiencing electronic bullying.”
The report found that, in 2021, 18% of teen girls experienced sexual violence within the previous year while an alarming 60% of female students reported feelings of “persistent” sadness and 25% had made suicide plans.
“In 2021, 11% of high school students were forced by anyone to do sexual things — including kissing, touching or being physically forced to have sexual intercourse — when they did not want to during the past year,” the report reads.
Female students were more vulnerable to sexual than male students to sexual violence, with the number of teen girls reporting recent sexual violence increasing from 15% in 2017 to 18% in 2021.
The percentage of female students who reported having ever been forced to have sex increased from 12% in 2011 to 14% in 2021, according to the CDC.
The percentage of teen girls who had made suicide plans increased sharply during the pandemic with 24% having made serious plans, according to the report. The percentage of teen girls who had made suicide plans was just 15% in 2011. In 2021, 13% of teen girls had attempted suicide and 4% were injured by their suicide attempt.
Teenagers who identify as LGBTQ were also “significantly more likely” than their peers to have suffered violence, according to the report.
Dr. Willough Jenkins, medical director of emergency and consultation liaison psychiatry at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, told NBC News that many instances of sexual assault and abuse occur at home.
“The pandemic did not limit exposure to these people, but rather in some cases increased exposure due to lockdowns at home,” Jenkins said.
Emily Miles, the executive director of the NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault, also told NBC News that reports of cybersexual violence also “increased dramatically” during the pandemic.