Searching for the developmental origins of sexual violence: Examing the co-occurance of physical aggression and sexual behaviors in early childhood

While developmental perspectives on sexual violence have gained much interest in recent years, few empirical studies have been conducted to better understand its origins. This study attempts to fill this gap by examining the onset of physical aggression and normative sexual behaviors in preschoolers. This study is based on a sample of at-risk children (n = 100) recruited as part of the KD-BEAR project, an on-going longitudinal study conducted in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Semi-structured interviews were completed with the primary caregiver and the child. The structural model examined showed a significant and important latent correlation between physical aggression and sexual behaviors across models tested, after controlling for child and familial characteristics. Furthermore, findings showed that male preschoolers coming from low income families having been referred for assessment and/or treatment for an externalizing spectrum disorder showed higher levels of both aggression and sexual behaviors. The implications of these findings are discussed in light of developmental models of sexual violence, and the secondary prevention of sexual violence at its earliest stages.
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Behavioral Sciences and the Law
Between 2008 and 2009 the co-occurrence of physical aggression and normative sexual behaviors as well as the covariates of the frequency of the behaviors were examined among 100 preschoolers in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. This study was the first wave in the Vancouver Longitudinal Study on the Psychosocial Development of Children. Two samples were recruited: a clinical sample (14) and community sample (86). Face -to-face interviews were conducted with the primary caregiver and child. Males characterized by a spectrum disorder from low-income families were more likely to show higher levels of both behaviors. These findings may be helpful in understanding origins of sexually violent offenses. However, more research is needed to understand the developmental pathways of aggressive behaviors among preschoolers that may manifest into more severe levels of aggression and sexual behaviors as they become older.
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prevention, theory
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