The Relationship Between Sexual Abuse and Risky Sexual Behavior Among Adolescent Boys: A Meta-Analysis
Childhood and adolescent sexual abuse has been shown to lead to increased odds of sexual behaviors that lead to sexually transmitted infections and early pregnancy involvement. Research, meta-analyses, and interventions, however, have focused primarily on girls and young women who have experienced abuse, yet some adolescent boys are also sexually abused. We performed a meta-analysis of the existing studies to assess the magnitudes of the link between a history of sexual abuse and each of the three risky sexual behaviors among adolescent boys in North America. The three outcomes were (a) unprotected sexual intercourse, (b) multiple sexual partners, and (c) pregnancy involvement. Weighted mean effect sizes were computed from ten independent samples, from nine studies published between 1990 and 2011. Sexually abused boys were significantly more likely than nonabused boys to report all three risky sexual behaviors. Weighted mean odds ratios were 1.91 for unprotected intercourse, 2.91 for multiple sexual partners, and 4.81 for pregnancy involvement. Our results indicate that childhood and adolescent sexual abuse can substantially influence sexual behavior in adolescence among male survivors. To improve sexual health for all adolescents, even young men, we should strengthen sexual abuse prevention initiatives, raise awareness about male sexual abuse survivors' existence and sexual health issues, improve sexual health promotion for abused young men, and screen all people, regardless of gender, for a history of sexual abuse.