More than 17 percent of high school girls surveyed in Indiana last year — some as young as 14 — said they have been forced to have sex, reports the Indianapolis Star. It’s a startling statistic, especially when you consider that makes Indiana the state with the second-highest percentage of the 42 states surveyed, behind only Wyoming.
The information is part of a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance covers a wide range of behaviors among high school students that put them at risk for illness and death. Why does Indiana rank so high? “It’s so hard to cite one reason,” said Abby Kelly-Smith, rape prevention and education program director at the Indiana State Department of Health. She said it might have something to do with the conservative culture in these parts, which can create a reluctance to have open and honest conversations about sex. Economic downturns, and the poverty and unemployment that follow, also can raise the likelihood of sexual violence, she said. Fluctuations in rape statistics, in general, are often difficult to explain because the crime is so under-reported.