Fergusson, Horwood, and Lynsky (1997) also examined the extent to which exposure to CSA was associated with increased rates of sexual risk-taking behaviors among 520 young women (aged 18) in New Zealand. Retrospective reports of CSA indicated that females who experienced sexual abuse (intercourse) were 4.4 times more likely to engage in sexual activity and be pregnant, 9.3 times more likely to have had five or more sexual partners, and 6.6 times more likely to have had sexual intercourse before age 16. The association remained significant even after controlling for other adverse childhood experiences. Further, Brown, Lourie, Zlotnick, and Cohn (2000) conducted a study of 208 adolescent patients who attended psychiatric day schools and residential programs, and found that more than half reported a history of sexual abuse (Addy et al. 2003)."
Prior research has also found that students that were sexually abused as children were times more likely than their peers to be inconsistent as it relates to using condoms during sexual activity (Addy et al. 2003). In addition sexually abused adolescents had less condom self-efficacy, a reduced understanding of HIV / AIDS, less impulse control, less frequent purchase and use of condoms, and higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), when compared to adolescents that were not sexually abused as children (Addy et al. 2003).
In the present research Addy et al. (2003) investigated the Impact of a History of Sexual Abuse on High-Risk Sexual Behaviors among Females Attending Alternative Schools.
The article explains that this particular study had as its foundation the secondary analysis of the Safer Choices 2 baseline data. Safer Choices 2 program is designed to prevent HIV, Sexually transmitted diseases, and pregnancy. This particular program was being used and evaluated in a total of ten alternative schools in a large city in Texas. The program received funding from the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (Addy et al. 2003). The overall goal of the program was to create a multicomponent sexual education program to be used in alternative schools (Addy et al. 2003).
There were a total of 494 students that were considered for this study and from which data was collected from November of 2000 to January of 2001 (Addy et al. 2003). There were 212 male students involved in the study and 282 female students involved in the study (Addy et al. 2003). As a condition for participating in the study only students that had reported being sexually active were included in the study and ultimately only female students were chosen to participate in the study (Addy et al. 2003). In the end the final sample size was 184(Addy et al. 2003).
The study found that as it related to female students at alternative schools 26.6% reported that they had been raped (Addy et al. 2003). This percentage is more than twice the national average. The research also found that students that were racially classified as other (Asian, mixed ethnicity) had the highest levels of child sexual abuse prevalence (Addy et al. 2003).
The study also found that child sexual abuse significantly increased sexual risk behaviors in these adolescent girls (Addy et al. 2003). In addition sexually abused females were significantly more likely to report sexual initiation prior to the age of 14 (Addy et al. 2003). They were also more likely to have 3 or more partners (within a period of 3 months) and to have a history of STDs (Addy et al. 2003).
The aforementioned results are in congruence with previous findings related to this particular topic (Addy et al. 2003). However the scale of the associations related to CSA and subsequent high-risk sexual behaviors in these studies were varied from a twofold to a nine fold increase in risk (Addy et al. 2003). In addition, while prior studies found correlations between CSA and early pregnancy, substance use prior to most recent sexual encounter, and failure to use protection, the results of this study did not find these correlations (Addy et al. 2003). The authors assert that it can be conclude that these correlations were not found in this study because the sample was taken from alternative schools, made up of at-risk adolescents with low overall inconsistency in high-risk sexual behaviors (Addy et al. 2003). The author also asserts that, the small sample size may have decreased the capacity of the statistical analysis to detect significant differences (Addy et al. 2003).
Lastly this particular research also found that depression did not necessarily explain the correlation between child sexual abuse and high risk sexual behaviors. This finding is actually consistent with previous research which has evaluated the interaction effects of emotional status and sexual abuse as it related to high risk sexual behaviors. The study found there were no interaction effects of depression on the correlation between child sexual abuse and sexuality variables such as the amount of unwanted pregnancies (Addy et al. 2003). On the other hand, girls with high anxiety scores who also had experienced child sexual abuse had the most significant number of unwanted pregnancies (Addy et al. 2003). In addition, Morrill, Kasten, Urato, and Larson (2001) discovered that depression and problems with drug and alcohol addiction did not serve as a link between sexual abuse and sexual risk in a sample of both women and men in substance abuse facilities in Massachusetts (Addy et al. 2003). Overall such findings propose that the affects of child sexual abuse impact sexual behaviors through a social learning process (Addy et al. 2003). That is this process is developed as a result of modeling and reinforcement as opposed to indirect contributory factors such as depression (Addy et al. 2003).
One final affect that the sexual abuse of children has on at-risk youth behavior has to do with development of sexually abusive behavior in sexually victimized adolescents. This abusive behavior is most commonly seen in sexually abused boys but can also be present in females. Prior research has indicated that many child sexual abusers were also victims of child sexual abuse. However, most people who are abused do not become child sexual abusers (Itzin 2000). Many researchers believe that for an individual to go on to become a victimizer other risk factors must also be present. The study evaluated boys that were victims of sexual abuse that went on to become victimizers and boys that were victims of sexual abuse that did not become victimizers (Itzin 2000). The study found that several risk factors placed victimized boys in the position to become victimizers including violence, being a witness to intrafamilial violence, rejected by family and peers insufficient identification with father figure and the absence of a non-abusive male attachment figure (Itzin 2000). The study also found that male victims of sexual abuse who have abused other children can be discriminated from those who have not done so in terms of life events that are unrelated directly to the experience of sexual victimization. Accordingly the findings are applicable only to boys who have been sexually abused. In addition, as the study focused on adolescent perpetrators the findings may apply only to boys who began abusing before or during adolescence. It is perhaps surprising that witnessing rather than experiencing intrafamilial violence seemed to be the most potent risk factor, although many boys were exposed to both risks (Itzin 2000)."
This final affect of child sexual abuse combined with the other affects are the reasons why child sexual abuse must be prevented and dealt with appropriately when it does occur. When child sexual abuse is properly addressed, children can receive the care that they need to prevent such adverse affects from occurring and completely ruining the life of the child. In the next section of this discussion we will focus on how this problem can be addresses by the family, schools, and social service agencies. In addition we will discuss solutions to help children in avoiding at-risk behaviors.
How this problem is being addressed by the family, school, social service agencies, and/or the government and the solutions to assist children who have been sexually abused avoid at-risk behaviors
As it relates to the family, there are some things that can be done to reduce the chances of a child being abused sexually and some steps that families can take to address sexual abuse if it does occur. As it relates to preventing sexual abuse parents or guardians must be vigilant concerning the people that spend time with their children. This means that if at all possible parents should ensure that babysitters, coaches, and teachers have been subjected to background checks. In many cases, people have had previous offenses and are released for jail only to offend again. In addition, children should be taught to use their intuition and speak…