The effects of child sexual abuse in later family life; mental health, parenting and adjustment of offspring

R Roberts, T O'Connor, J Dunn, J Golding, ALSPAC Study Team

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252 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To investigate links between child sexual abuse (occurring before 13 years), later mental health, family organization, parenting behaviors, and adjustment in offspring. Method: The present study investigates a subsample of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children an ongoing study of women and their families in the area of Avon, England. A sample of 8292 families met inclusion criteria for identifiable family type and completed self-report data on prior sexual assault. Further data were collected on life course variables, socioeconomic variables, psychological well-being, relationship quality, parent-child relationship quality, and children's adjustment. Results: After adjustment for other childhood adversity, prior child sexual abuse was associated with a range of outcomes in adulthood, including current membership of a nontraditional family type (single mother and stepfather) poorer psychological well-being, teenage pregnancy, parenting behaviors, and adjustment problems in the victim's later offspring. The relationship of child sexual abuse with aspects of the parent-child relationship in later life and with the offspring's adjustment difficulties were mediated in part by mother's mental health-chiefly anxiety. Conclusion: Findings indicate that child sexual abuse has long-term repercussions for adult mental health, parenting relationships, and child adjustment in the succeeding generation. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)525 - 545
Number of pages21
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2004


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