Much like their female peers, young males also suffer from the traumatic effects of sexual abuse. For boys, such abuse can lead them to engage in the kind of high-risk sex that may end in unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, according to findings published online in the June issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health and reported by Medical News Today.

For the study, researchers reviewed 10 sets of surveys completed anonymously by more than 40,000 male high school students in British Columbia and a number of American states. Scientists compiled surveys from 20 years of published studies done between 1986 and 2011.

Findings showed sexually abused boys were three times more likely to have multiple sex partners and twice as likely to have unprotected sex.

“Boys are far less likely to tell someone when they have been sexually abused,” said Elizabeth Saewyc, a University of British Columbia professor of nursing and adolescent medicine, and a study coauthor. “Yet it’s clear they too need support and care to cope with the trauma from sexual violence.”

To provide this support and care, researchers recommended that schools incorporate sex abuse prevention in their health education programs, and that medical care organizations screen boys and girls for sexual abuse histories.

In addition, scientists advised parents to discuss sexual abuse with their sons to help foster prevention and to raise awareness that this issue also affects boys.

Did you know that childhood sexual abuse might also lead to adult-onset depression? Click here to read more.