College of Psychology: Faculty Articles

Title

The relationship between childhood sexual abuse and sexual health practices of homeless adolescents.

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Summer 2006

Publication Title

Adolescence

ISSN

0001-8449

Volume

41

Issue/No.

162

Abstract

This study explored the gender differences in sexual self-concept, personal resources for sexual health, safe sex behaviors, and risky sexual behaviors among homeless adolescents with and without histories of sexual abuse. Data for this secondary analysis were collected in 2003 to 2004 in the first phase of a larger repeated-measures sexual health intervention study; 371 homeless youth between 16 and 23 years of age (M = 19.26, SD = 1.83) were recruited from a street outreach center. The majority (64.6%) of participants were males. Self-report instruments were completed at the outreach center via audio computer-assisted self-interview (A-CASI) format. It was found that female participants were better off than males on numerous measures of sexual health behaviors and attitudes. Sexually abused participants had significantly less future time perspective (p = .05), fewer sexual self-care behaviors (p = .04), and less social support than nonabused participants (p = .01) and almost significantly more sexual risk-taking (p = .08). However, no significant differences were found between abused and nonabused participants on sexual self-concept, self-efficacy or intention to use condoms, safe sex behaviors, AIDS knowledge, assertive communication, or self-efficacy to perform testicular/ breast self-exams. Overall, participants who did not report a history of sexual abuse had significantly more sexual health resources and engaged in fewer sex-risk behaviors than those who reported having been abused. These differences have notable implications for screening adolescents for a history of sexual abuse. Adolescents who report sexual abuse should receive risk counseling and be screened regularly for the development of sexual risk behaviors.

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