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J Adolesc. 2018 Apr;64:89-97. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2018.02.006. Epub 2018 Feb 10.

Gender differences in pathways from child physical and sexual abuse to adolescent risky sexual behavior among high-risk youth.

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College of Social Work, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA. Electronic address:
Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, USA. Electronic address:
School of Social Work, The University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD, USA. Electronic address:


This study investigated gender differences in the roles of internalizing and externalizing symptoms and substance use as pathways linking child physical and sexual abuse to risky sexual behavior among youth at risk of maltreatment. Path analysis was performed with 862 adolescents drawn from Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect. Four waves of data collected in the United States were used: childhood physical and sexual abuse experiences (from ages 0-12) were assessed by Child Protective Services reports, internalizing and externalizing symptoms were measured at age 14, substance use was measured at age 16, and risky sexual behavior was measured at age 18. Physical abuse was directly associated with risky sexual behavior in boys but not girls. For girls, physical abuse had a significant indirect effect on risky sexual behavior via externalizing symptoms. Gender-focused preventive intervention strategies may be effective in reducing risky sexual behavior among at-risk adolescents.


Adolescence; Child physical abuse; Externalizing symptoms; Internalizing symptoms; Risky sexual behavior; Sexual abuse; Substance use

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