Coercive Sexual Environments: Neighborhoods Influences on Sexual Health and Safety
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Our Housing Opportunity and Services Together (HOST) Demonstration has offered us a unique platform for developing robust measures and testing the relationship between neighborhood concentrated disadvantage, the development of coercive sexual environments and negative outcomes for youth. HOST tests two-generation place-based strategies to improve outcomes for vulnerable families living in public and assisted housing. Our Washington, DC site incorporates a focus on teens and sexual health and safety. The HOST baseline survey incorporates new indicators based on our MTO work and our qualitative work in DC intended to measure both CSE and sexual harassment (SH). The surveys of HOST participants, both adults (n=346) and youth (n=172) were conducted in Chicago and Portland (Fall 2012) and D.C. (Summer 2013).
Using the baseline survey, we developed CSE and sexual harassment scales for adults and youth. We find that both the CSE and SH scales behave like other key measures of neighborhood health like social disorder, violence, and collective efficacy. Adults and youth who report higher levels of violence and social disorder also perceive higher levels of CSE and report experiencing more sexual harassment. Further, we find that both adult and youth respondents reporting higher levels of CSE and harassment also report higher levels of depression and anxiety. Both the sexual harassment and mental health associations remain significant after controlling for other aspects of neighborhood quality and personal characteristics.
We hope other scholars will incorporate these measures into larger, multi-neighborhood surveys to test their validity as community measures of a mechanism that affects outcomes for children and youth in distressed neighborhoods.