Correlates of adolescent reports of sexual assault: Findings from the National Survey of Adolescents

This study examines how key demographic variables and specific child sexual assault (CSA) incident characteristics were related to whether adolescents reported that they had told anyone about an alleged sexual assault. The study also investigates whether there were differences in the correlates of CSA disclosure as a function of gender and race/ethnicity. A national household probability sample of 4,023 adolescents was interviewed by telephone about childhood experiences, including CSA history. Significant gender and racial/ethnic differences were obtained in rates of CSA disclosure: Sexually abused boys and African American youth were less likely to report telling anyone they had been sexually abused. Separate regression models examining correlates of CSA disclosure yielded differences as a function of gender and race/ethnicity.
Hanson,Rochelle F.
Kievit,Lisha W.
Saunders,Benjamin E.
Smith,Daniel W.
Kilpatrick,Dean G.
Resnick,Heidi S.
Ruggiero,Kenneth J.
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Child Maltreatment
Studies on the factors that lead to child disclosure of sexual abuse reveal mixed results. The purpose of this study was to determine which demographic variables and sexual abuse incident characteristics were related to disclosure. Another purpose of this study was to determine whether correlates of sexual abuse disclosure differed by gender and race/ethnicity. Data from 4,023 adolescents was obtained through a national probability telephone survey. Measures included penetration and nonpenetration sexual assault, relationship to the perpetrator, degree of life threat, physical injury, victim substance use, disclosure of sexual assault to anyone, and knowledge of any formal reports made regarding the sexual assault. Results indicated that 8.1% of respondent adolescents had experienced a sexual assault. Regarding disclosure, about two thirds of the victims reported that they had told someone else about the sexual assault and about one third of these instances had also been formally reported. For all adolescent victims, use of substances did not reduce the likelihood of disclosure, and victims assaulted by a relative were the most likely to disclose. Girls and European Americans were more likely to disclose than boys and African Americans, respectively. However, among European Americans, gender did not influence disclosure. On the other hand, African American females were 7 times more likely to disclose than African American males were. Also, for girls and European Americans only, sustaining an injury during the sexual assault reduced the likelihood of disclosure. While, for African Americans penetration assault was associated with disclosure, life threat was associated with disclosure for European Americans. Due to their low rates of disclosure, these results indicate that careful assessment of sexual assault among African American children and boys may be particularly important. Additional research investigating correlates of sexual assault for other ethnic groups (e.g., Asians, Hispanics, and Native Americans) is also suggested.
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Adolescent/High School, Disclosure, Racial/Ethnic Differences
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