CDC News Release Magnified Spike in Sexual Violence Against Girls
It suggested a dramatic increase in the percentage of girls who had been raped
The release of the CDC's 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) last month spawned banner headlines about teen girls in the United States being swamped in a wave of violence and trauma. The survey showed a sharp increase in the percentage of girls who have considered suicide or have felt persistently sad or hopeless.
The survey also suggested a dramatic increase in the percentage of girls who had been raped. But in a statement to The Fact Checker, a CDC spokesman acknowledged that the rate of growth highlighted in the news release — 27 percent — was the result of rounding the numbers from more precise decimal-point results. The revised figure when calculated with decimal points is 18.4 percent. In addition, some experts have questioned whether the results have been affected by many schools refusing to ask the question about rape.
After The Fact Checker’s inquiry, the CDC edited the news release and an accompanying page on its website to remove the reference to a 27 percent increase — a number that figured prominently in news reports at the time. The agency also removed a graphic that had highlighted a 20 percent increase in the girls reporting sexual violence in the previous four years; the figure using decimal points is 17.8 percent.
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