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Study IDs Parenting Risk Factors Linked to Childhood Sexual Abuse

Study IDs Parenting Risk Factors Linked to Childhood Sexual Abuse

Individuals whose parents struggled with substance dependence, intimate partner violence and mental illness are more than 10 times more likely to have been victims of childhood sexual abuse than those whose parents did not have these problems, once age and race are taken into account, according to a new study published in the journal Social Work.

A research team from the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work and Institute of Life Course & Aging found that, with each risk factor present, the prevalence of childhood sexual abuse increased dramatically.

The findings show that about one percent of men and two percent of women who were not exposed to parental substance dependence, intimate partner violence, or mental illness reported that they had been sexually abused during their childhood.

However, among those exposed to one of these childhood adversities, the prevalence of childhood sexual abuse nearly tripled to 2.7 percent for men and 6.4 percent for women.

Exposure to two of the risk factors was linked to an additional increase in the prevalence of childhood sexual abuse (5.5 percent for men and 15.5 percent for women). For those who came from chaotic homes where all three main risk factors were present, the prevalence of childhood sexual abuse was 11.6 percent for men and 26.4 percent for women.

“The finding of more than a ten-fold difference in the prevalence of sexual abuse from those exposed to three childhood adversities to those with none was quite shocking,” said co-author Senyo Agbeyaka, a recent University of Toronto MSW graduate who is a social worker at University Health Network. “It is rare to see such a big effect and for the effect to be so consistent for both men and women.”

The researchers decided to conduct the study a second time in a different population-based independent sample in order to see if they could replicate the findings.

“The findings from both surveys were remarkably similar, suggesting that the associations are particularly robust and worthy of further investigation,” Agbeyaka said.

The study was based on two representative community samples: one study conducted in 2010 with 22,868 adults and the second, in 2012, with a different sample of 29,801 adults.

The information was taken from the Brief Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS) and separate analyses were conducted for each sex. Two major limitations of the study are use of retrospective self-report of these early adversities and a lack of information on the exact timing when they occurred. The findings only indicate correlation and cannot be interpreted as causative.

“Our findings have important implications for improved screening for childhood maltreatment by social workers and other health and education professionals working with children,” said lead author Professor Esme Fuller-Thomson, Director of the Institute of Life Course and Aging at the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work.

“We must not underestimate the negative impact of parental intimate partner violence, mental illness and substance dependence on the children in the household. Children are very vulnerable to sexual abuse in households where parents are struggling with several of these adversities.”

Source: University of Toronto

 

Study IDs Parenting Risk Factors Linked to Childhood Sexual Abuse

Traci Pedersen

Traci Pedersen is a professional writer with over a decade of experience. Her work consists of writing for both print and online publishers in a variety of genres including science chapter books, college and career articles, and elementary school curriculum.

APA Reference
Pedersen, T. (2020). Study IDs Parenting Risk Factors Linked to Childhood Sexual Abuse. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 30, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2020/08/27/study-ids-parenting-risk-factors-linked-to-childhood-sexual-abuse/159107.html
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 27 Aug 2020 (Originally: 27 Aug 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 27 Aug 2020
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.