Most studies on the mental health consequences of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) focus predominantly on CSA survivors who do not commit sexual offenses.
The current study examined the effects of CSA on 498 male adolescents adjudicated for sexual offenses who represent the small portion of CSA survivors who engage in sexual offenses. The prevalence of internalizing symptoms, parental attachment difficulties, specific sexual offending behaviors, and risk for sexually offending were compared among participants with and without a history of CSA.
Results indicated that participants with a history of CSA were more likely to be diagnosed with major depression and posttraumatic stress disorder than those who did not report a history of CSA. A history of CSA was also positively correlated with risk for sexually offending and with specific offense patterns and consensual sexual behaviors. No significant differences emerged on parental attachment difficulties.
These results highlight that adolescents adjudicated for sexual offenses with a history of CSA present with differences in sexual and psychological functioning as well as markedly different offending patterns when compared with those without a CSA history. Clinical implications and future directions are discussed.
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Barry R. Burkhart, Department of Psychology, Auburn University, 222 Cary Hall, AL 36849-5234, USA. Email:
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