Exploring Gender and Racial/Ethnic Differences in the Effects of Child Sexual Abuse

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Journal of Child Sexual Abuse

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DOI: 10.1080/10538712.2018.1484403


Child sexual abuse (CSA) has been linked to a number of adverse effects including hypersexuality (HYP), substance use (SUB), suicidality (SUI), and depression (DEP). Despite a plethora of research on CSA, little is known about how it affects adolescents and the cultural factors that influence their coping styles. This study was founded on social-cultural coping theory and the model of traumagenic dynamics of sexual abuse, suggesting that CSA consequences lead to maladaptive coping mechanisms influenced by sociocultural factors. Using archival data, loglinear analysis was conducted to examine gender differences within racial/ethnic groups in HYP, SUI, DEP, and SUB among adolescent survivors of CSA in a National sample of 13,583 male and female high school students. The purpose of the study was to identify differences in the effects of CSA as manifested by variations of maladaptive coping across racial/ethnic groups and gender. Boys were significantly more likely to use substances, while girls were more likely to experience depressive symptoms and suicidality. Notably, this study did not reveal any significant racial/ethnic differences in adolescent coping. These findings can inform treatment planning and interventions for adolescents who may present with DEP, SUI, SUB, or risky sexual behaviors, but may have underlying trauma from CSA. This study contributes to the knowledge base about the processes that take place within adolescent CSA survivors, shedding light on cultural nuances among adolescent coping and informing culturally competent practice.