Longitudinal Analysis of Maternal Risk Factors for Childhood Sexual Abuse: Early Attitudes and Behaviours, Socioeconomic Status, and Mental Health

School of Population Health and Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research, University of Queensland, Herston Road, Herston, Queensland 4006, Australia.
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 3.41). 06/2011; 45(8):629-37. DOI: 10.3109/00048674.2011.587395
Source: PubMed


The objective of this study was to examine whether maternal factors such as socioeconomic status (SES), attitudes towards the baby, and mental health at 6 months or earlier, are associated with non-penetrative and penetrative childhood sexual abuse (CSA) in her offspring.
This was a prospective birth cohort study followed up to 21 years. Set in one of two obstetric hospitals in Brisbane, Australia, the Mater-University of Queensland Study of Pregnancy (MUSP) involves a prospective birth cohort from a population based sample of 7223 singletons whose mothers were enrolled between 1981 and 1984 at the first antenatal visit. The present cohort consisted of 2664 participants who provided CSA data, and whose mothers had responded to all relevant questions.
About 16% of young adults reported non-penetrative sexual abuse before the age of sixteen and 9% reported penetrative abuse. After adjusting for all variables in the model, an increased risk for non-penetrative CSA was associated with the child being female, unwanted pregnancy, mother being a heavy smoker, and maternal anxiety. Increased risk for penetrative CSA was associated with the child being female, the mother having failed to complete a high school level education, living in an alternative arrangement other than marriage, and being either a moderate or heavy smoker. We found no associations between maternal age and CSA after correcting for other predictors.
CSA was not uncommon in this cohort with one in four reporting some form of sexual abuse before 16. The results suggest that several early factors may predict later CSA and that the associations are different according to type of CSA.

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Available from: Jackob M. Najman, Dec 18, 2014
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    • "While developmental differences do emerge between pre-adolescence and adolescence in regard to the variables of interest in this study, a mediating relation between violence exposure, PTS, and school functioning is still anticipated. The role of child characteristics, such as parent education level, adolescent gender, and age, will also be considered in the examination of the interplay between violence, PTS symptoms, and school functioning problems, as past research has supported that lower levels of parental educational attainment is a risk factor for violence exposure (29–32); girls and younger children are more likely to express PTS as a result of violence exposure (33–36) and male gender has been associated with poorer school functioning problems (37, 38). "
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    ABSTRACT: Adolescents who are exposed to violence during childhood are at an increased risk for developing posttraumatic stress (PTS) symptoms. The literature suggests that violence exposure might also have negative effects on school functioning, and that PTS might serve as a potential mediator in this association. The purpose of the current study was to replicate and extend prior research by examining PTS symptoms as a mediator of the relationship between two types of violence exposure and school functioning problems among adolescent youth from an urban setting. Participants included a sample of 121 junior high and high school students (M = 15 years; range = 13-16 years; 60 males, 61 females) within high-crime neighborhoods. Consistent with our hypotheses, community violence and family violence were associated with PTS symptoms and school functioning problems. Our data suggest that community and family violence were indirectly related to school functioning problems through PTS symptoms. Findings from this study demonstrate that PTS symptoms potentially mediate the relationship between violence exposure and school functioning problems across two settings (community and home). Future research should further examine protective factors that can prevent youth violence exposure as well as negative outcomes related to violence.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2014 · Frontiers in Public Health

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