The research also revealed that when family income reaches 400 percent of the poverty threshold, or around 92,000 dollars for a four-person household, the risk of sexual assault declines by more than 50 percent.
The study conducted by University of Iowa School of Social Work professor Amy Butler examined sexual assault in more than 1,000 girls aged 17 and younger, across all income levels.
It relied on data obtained from the ongoing Panel Study of Income Dynamics-a national survey of families begun in 1968 and directed by University of Michigan faculty.
Butler's study looked at risk factors related to behavior, family history, and parental income that were measured prior to an assault, giving the work potentially predictive value.
Her analysis also confirmed previous research that showed girls whose mothers had at least a high-school education and whose biological parents were both present from birth to age one had a lower risk of sexual assault.
Her analysis found that girls with extremely low math and reading scores, and those referred to special education programs were more likely than their peers to experience an assault. It also confirmed that girls who-according to their caregivers-were shy, withdrawn, had impulsive tendencies or expressed feelings of worthlessness were more prone to sexual assault.
The study further outlined that many mental health disorders found in victims and survivors of assault appear to be a result of their experience with rape.
The study has been published in the International Journal of Child Abuse and Neglect.