Date of Award

Winter 12-2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Dr. Leah Daigle

Second Advisor

Dr. Timothy Brezina

Third Advisor

Dr. Brent Teasdale

Abstract

Although about half of all rape victims are adolescents, the bulk of the research on sexual victimization is focused on college or community samples of adult women. As such, little is known about adolescent risk of sexual victimization. Adolescence is an important developmental phase in life, in which an individual undergoes major social and biological changes. These changes may make them more susceptible to environmental characteristics, such as family climate, compared to adults. Environmental factors may influence risk taking among adolescents, which may increase the risk of sexual victimization. The theory of social support can be useful in understanding why some young individuals are sexually victimized and others are not. Data for the analysis is derived from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). The current study uses the in-home interviews from Wave I, Wave II, and Wave IV of Add Health. The purpose of the study is to examine the relationship between social support, risky behavior, and sexual victimization. Specifically, whether risky behavior mediates the relationship between adolescent sexual victimization and social support will be examined.

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