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Depression, Anxiety, and Behavior Problems Among Victims of Father-Child Sexual Assault and Nonabused Siblings

NCJ Number
Journal of Interpersonal Violence Volume: 4 Issue: 4 Dated: (December 1989) Pages: 452-468
J A Lipovsky; B E Saunders; S M Murphy
Date Published
17 pages
The empirical research on the immediate effects of sexual abuse on child victims has yielded inconsistent results.
Studies utilizing parent reports of children's behavior suggest that sexually abused children display more behavior problems than general population norms and children drawn from the general community, but display fewer problems than children seen in clinical populations. Few studies using standardized measures and comparison groups have assessed children's self-reported emotional difficulties. The present study compared the behavioral and emotional problems of children abused by a father (or other adult male functioning as a caretaker) with a comparison group of nonabused siblings drawn from the same families. Both the mother and the father/perpetrator completed parent rating scales on their children's behavior. In addition, children completed standardized self-report measures of depression, anxiety, and self-esteem. Results indicated that both mothers and father/perpetrators perceived the sexually abused children to display more behavior problems than nonabused siblings. Victims reported significantly higher levels of depression than did nonabused siblings. Both victims and nonabused siblings reported significant problems related to self-esteem. (Author abstract)