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Child Abuse Negl. 1999 Jan;23(1):45-60.

The prevalence and circumstances of child sexual abuse: changes across a decade.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles 90024-1759, USA.



This study reports the prevalence of child sexual abuse of African American and European American women and compares the circumstances of these incidents to data collected a decade ago.


Stratified probability sampling was used to recruit comparable samples of African American and European American women in Los Angeles County for a larger study of women's sexual decision making. Incidents of contact abuse were obtained from women 18 to 36 years old in 1994 and compared to women with those demographic characteristics from a comparable 1984 dataset. The prevalence of abuse, characteristics of the victim, assault, alleged perpetrator, disclosure, and long-term effects by ethnic group affiliation were assessed.


Of the total sample, 34% reported at least one incident prior to age 18. Ethnic differences were found with respect to prevalence, location of abuse, and number of incidents of rape. While comparisons made with the 1984 dataset revealed no significant difference in prevalence rates over the 10 year period, changes in circumstances were noted.


Although the prevalence of child sexual abuse in Los Angeles County remained fairly stable, several circumstances of abuse underwent change. These characteristics are discussed in relation to how sexual abuse among ethnically diverse samples in Los Angeles County has changed over a decade and how these differences can help better tailor prevention messages to different communities.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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