New research has found that many teens who go to the ER after being sexually assaulted aren't receiving the proper care.
The study, which was published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, analyzed nearly 13,000 cases of teen sexual assault victims who went to the emergency room after their assault.
What researchers found was disturbing: Just 44 percent of sexually assaulted teens received the recommended testing for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and pregnancy, and only 35 percent received the recommended treatment to lower the odds of contracting chlamydia and gonorrhea, as well as receive emergency contraception.
Some emergency rooms didn’t even give the treatments—researchers found that the treatment range varied from zero teens treated at some hospitals to 57 percent treated.
Rates for treatment and testing depended on the hospital and were lowest for the younger patients.
Just 44 percent of sexually assaulted teens received the recommended testing for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and pregnancy.
The research also reveals how common teen sexual assault is and, unfortunately, it happens much more often than you’d think. About 25 percent of teen girls and 10 percent of teen boys are sexually assaulted or abused before the age of 18. Let that sink in for a moment.
There are some caveats—to the testing and treatment findings, at least: Researchers say that some teens might not have been tested or received treatment because the assault didn’t involve intercourse. ER doctors also might not have tested teens who waited to get care (instead of coming in right after the assault or the next day). Finally, teens have the option of refusing testing or treatment.
Sexual violence is unfortunately an issue for American adults, too. According to research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly two million women are raped in the U.S. each year, and nearly one in two women experience sexual violence victimization other than rape at some point in their lives.
The fallout can be crippling: Victims can experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, develop STDs, and experience an unwanted pregnancy.
While men can certainly be victims of sexual assault, the most recent study found it’s largely a female problem among teens who seek care: A whopping 93 percent of the victims were women.