Risk factors in the sexual victimization of children.


In response to an anonymous questionnaire survey, 19% of the women and 9% of the men in a population of 796 normal college students said they had been sexually victimized in the course of childhood. The majority of these children were victimized by men within their intimate social network, not strangers. Most children did not tell anyone about the experience. Certain groups of children were at higher risk of victimization than others. More girls from lower-income groups were victimized; also those from socially isolated backgrounds. Girls from stepfather families were five times more vulnerable than the others. If a girl had ever lived without her mother, or if her mother had substantially less education than her father, or if her mother was particularly punitive about sexual matters, a girl was at higher risk for sexual abuse. These risk factors could be combined into a checklist which illustrates their cumulative effect. Over 50% of girls with four or more risk factors suffered a victimization. However, care must be taken not to see in this high vulnerability cause for blaming the victims for their own victimization. © 1981.



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Child Abuse and Neglect



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