Binge Drinking Linked To Sexual Assault Risk For College Freshmen

A new study, to be published in the January issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, has linked binge drinking with the risk of sexual assault among women in their first year of college.

The study, lead by scientists at the University of Buffalo, followed 437 young women from their high school graduation through their freshman year at a college or university.

According to a press release from the school, the researchers discovered that of women who did not drink heavily during high school, nearly half of them said that they had engaged in “heavy episodic drinking — commonly called binge drinking — at least once by the end of their first college semester.”

Those who were already binge drinkers in high school continued drinking at a similar rate during their freshman year of university, and of those young women who engaged in binge drinking of at least four to six drinks, 25% of them said that they had been sexually victimized during the fall semester — which could entail anything from unwanted sexual contact to rape, they added.

“The more alcohol those binges involved, the greater the likelihood of sexual assault,” they added. “Of women who’d ever consumed 10 or more drinks in a sitting since starting college, 59 percent were sexually victimized by the end of their first semester.”

“Though young women are not to blame for being victimized — that fault lies squarely with the perpetrator — if colleges can make more headway in reducing heavy drinking, they may be able to prevent more sexual assaults in the process,” they added.

“This suggests that drinking-prevention efforts should begin before college,” said lead researcher Maria Testa, a senior scientist at the University of Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions, said in a statement.

Testa emphasized that parents should talk to their kids about drinking before they leave for college, regardless of whether or not they believed that those teens were active drinkers in high school, and should continue to emphasize responsible alcohol consumption even after they go to college.

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