College of Psychology: Faculty Articles

Title

Behavior Problems in Sexually Abused Children of Depressed Versus Nondepressed Mothers

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

6-2002

Keywords

Behavior Problems, Sexual Abuse, Children, Depression

Publication Title

Journal of Family Violence

ISSN

0885-7482

Volume

17

Issue/No.

2

Abstract

Children's psychological adjustment following stressors, such as sexual abuse, is impacted by environmental variables. One such factor is parental support, which can be hampered when a caregiver suffers from psychopathology. The purpose of this study was to determine whether maternal depression would impact the children's adjustment to sexual abuse. It was hypothesized that depressed mothers would report more behavior difficulties for their sexually abused children than nondepressed mothers. Participants were 58 children (and their mothers) who were referred for trauma symptoms related to sexual abuse. Mothers completed the Beck Depression Inventory as a measure of their depression and rated their children's behaviors on the Revised Behavior Problem Checklist. The children completed the Children's Depression Inventory and the Revised Children's Manifest Anxiety Scale. Results revealed that depressed mothers reported more conduct problems, inattention/immaturity, and psychotic behavior than nondepressed mothers. Differences were not observed for mothers' report of depressive or anxious behaviors across groups. The children of depressed mothers reported increased levels of depression, but not anxiety, when compared to children of nondepressed mothers. Although both groups of mothers reported symptoms to be clinically significant, the children did not endorse their symptoms in clinically significant ranges.

DOI

10.1023/A:1015010616071

Peer Reviewed

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