About 5 to 10 percent of U.S. high-school boys say they've been "physically forced" to have sexual intercourse against their will, according to survey results reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The numbers come from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance report published by the CDC on June 8, and are based on student-reported answers to 2011 national and state surveys.
Click here to see the report. The results concerning high-school students and forced sex can be seen on pages 66-68.
Erin Hunter, a CDC press-office worker, couldn't explain the findings when asked if they made sense to her.
"Um, well, I mean I can think of a, uh -- there's nothing in the question that talks about any kind of gender, whether it would be male or female," she responded.
We think Hunter was implying that the boy victims who answered the question meant that their aggressors were boys or men. Hunter didn't want to elaborate, other than noting that "how the student interprets the question is up to them."
Of course, due to the quirks of biology, it seems very unlikely -- if not impossible -- that a girls could "physically force" unwanted sexual intercourse on a boy.
Even if the male victims of forced sexual intercourse meant they'd been raped by another male, though, the self-reported survey results seem unusually high.
Could many boys taking the survey just be making up answers? Hunter couldn't say.
The national figures on page 66 are based on CDC surveys of 15,000 students across the country, she says.
Those figures reveal that 4.5 percent of high-school boys reported being physically forced to have sexual intercourse. The figures also show an unexplainable racial discrepancy, with black and Hispanic boys reporting much higher rates of forced sex than whites. For instance, only 3.2 percent of white boys reported forced sexual intercourse, compared to 6.1 percent of black boys.
The state figures on page 67 come from self-reported surveys from each state, Hunter says.
In Arizona, 7.1 percent of boys reported being physically forced to have sexual intercourse, which was on the high side compared to other states. The state with the largest number of boys answering "yes" to the survey question was Kentucky, with 8.8 percent.
Page 68 of the June 8 report lists figures from "large urban school district surveys," which shows Boston, Philadelphia and Duval County, Florida had the biggest number of boys reporting forced sex.
When asked if the CDC could explain the figures or talk about the credibility of the survey, Hunter says we could e-mail her and she'd try to get a scientist to respond.
"I think we're done," she says brusquely, and hangs up.
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Without dismissing any concerns about male rape, we'll note that other surveys have shown lower numbers. Other surveys put the number of men reporting forced sexual intercourse at 3-4 percent -- closer to the June report's national figure of 4.5 percent, but much lower than the states' figures. Even if the lower numbers are accurate, that seems like a significant societal problem.
The survey results show girls reporting a higher percentages of rapes -- 11.8 percent nationally. A whopping 16.5 percent of girls in Wyoming reported forced sexual intercourse.
The 162-page report also details self-reported figures for drinking and drug use, texting while driving, eating health food, exercise and other behaviors by high-school students.