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Aggress Behav. 2015 Sep-Oct;41(5):467-77. doi: 10.1002/ab.21584. Epub 2015 Mar 3.

Trajectories of male sexual aggression from adolescence through college: A latent class growth analysis.

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Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia.
University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, North Carolina.


Approximately 25% of male college students report engaging in some form of sexual coercion by the end of their fourth year of college. White and Smith (2004) found that negative childhood experiences-childhood sexual abuse, childhood physical abuse, and witnessing domestic violence-predicted sexual aggression perpetrated before college, but not during the subsequent college years, a puzzling finding in view of the reasonably consistent rates of sexual aggression from adolescence to the first 2 years of college. The current study takes a person-centered approach to sexual aggression in an attempt to resolve this discrepancy. We examined the possibility of cohesive subgroups of men in terms of their frequency of sexual aggression across the pre-college and college years. A series of latent class growth models were fit to an existing longitudinal dataset of sexual experiences collected across four time points-pre-college through year 3 of college. A four-trajectory model fit the data well, exhibiting significantly better fit than a three-trajectory model. The four trajectories are interpreted as men who perpetrate sexual aggression at (1) low (71.5% of the sample), (2) moderate (21.2%), (3) decreasing (4.2%), and (4) increasing (3.1%) frequencies across time. Negative childhood experiences predicted membership of the decreasing trajectory, relative to the low trajectory, but did not predict membership of the increasing trajectory, explaining the discrepancy uncovered by White and Smith. Implications for primary prevention of sexual aggression are discussed.


adverse childhood experiences; aggression trajectories; sexual aggression; sexual violence; violence against women

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