Exploring the Link Between Child Sexual Abuse and Sexually Intrusive Behaviors: The Moderating Role of Caregiver Discipline Strategy
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Although it has been well documented that children who experience child sexual abuse (CSA) are at increased risk for developing sexually intrusive behaviors (SIB), there is considerable heterogeneity in symptom presentation. With the aim of elucidating potential moderating factors that both exacerbate and attenuate outcomes following CSA, the current study investigated caregiver discipline strategy as one potential factor that may moderate the relationship between CSA and SIB. Participants included 986 eight-year-old children (51.4 % female) drawn from the Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect consortium. Child maltreatment histories were collected every 2 years starting at age 4, and caregiver discipline strategies and SIB were assessed at age 8. Results confirm the lack of a simple pathway between CSA and SIB and indicate that caregiver discipline strategy may represent a unique moderator for both exacerbating and attenuating risk for SIB following CSA. Specifically, for girls with a history of CSA, caregiver use of adaptive discipline resulted in lower levels of SIB, whereas caregiver use of physical discipline resulted in higher levels of SIB. The present study contributes to the ongoing discourse regarding the treatment of children who have experienced CSA and etiological pathways associated with the development of SIB.
KeywordsChild sexual abuse Child sexual behavior problems Parenting Discipline Child maltreatment
We are grateful to the staff of the National Data Archives on Child Abuse and Neglect (NDACAN) and the NDACAN Summer Research Institute for their assistance.
The findings and conclusions in this manuscript are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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