Childhood Sexual Abuse to
Adolescent Risky Behavior
well-established that childhood sexual abuse (CSA) is followed
by increased rates of substance use and risky behavior in
adolescence. The Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect
(LONGSCAN) have provided data from multiple sites that make
it possible to test mechanisms linking CSA to subsequent risky
behavior. A team of LONGSCAN researchers analyzed data for
832 youths for whom information about maltreatment in childhood
was available, who were assessed with the CBCL at age 12,
and who were interviewed at age 14 about their history of
alcohol use and sexual intercourse (Jones et al., 2013). For
both girls and boys, it was found that histories of CSA indirectly
predicted alcohol use via elevated CBCL Externalizing scores.
However, CSA predicted sexual intercourse indirectly via elevated
Externalizing scores only for girls. Although the researchers
predicted that CSA would also increase risky behavior via
elevated Internalizing scores, this prediction was not supported.
It was speculated that the lack of significant support for
Internalizing problems as predictors of risky behavior might
stem from the caregivers' lack of sensitivity to the youths'
Internalizing problems, but this explanation seemed unlikely,
because self-reported Internalizing problems yielded results
like those found for caregivers' CBCL ratings.
Jones, D. J., Lewis, T., Litrownik, A., Thompson, R., Proctor,
L.J., Isbell, P., Dubowitz, H., English, D., Jones, B., Nagin,
D., & Runyan, D. (2013). Linking childhood sexual abuse
and early adolescent risk behavior: The intervening role of
internalizing and externalizing problems. Journal of Abnormal
Child Psychology, 41, 139-150.