Risk factors and child sexual abuse among secondary school students in the Northern Province (South Africa)

Child Abuse Negl. 2000 Feb;24(2):259-68. doi: 10.1016/s0145-2134(99)00128-3.


Objective: This is an investigation into the risk factors that could discriminate childhood sexual abuse (CSA) from non-abuse in the Northern Province (South Africa).

Method: 414 students in standard 9 and 10 in three secondary schools in the province filled-in a retrospective self-rating questionnaire in a classroom setting. Questionnaires included modified and adapted questions from the Finkelhor's (1979) Risk Factor Checklist, and asked for physical contact forms of sexual abusive experiences of participants before the age of 17 years with an adult or a person at least 5 years older or a person in a position of power.

Result: It shows an overall (N = 414) CSA prevalence rate of 54.2%. Only four factors (from eight)-ethnicity not Northern Sotho, mother employed and not as laborer, a stepparent present in the family during childhood, and violence at home not seldom-significantly discriminated CSA from non-abuse. Increase in the number of combination of the four significant factors also increases the probability of the discrimination in a linear manner.

Conclusion: With some caution, we recommend the four significant risk factors for use while planning preventive strategies against childhood sexual abuse, and a massive campaign against child sexual abuse in the province. More job opportunities should be created in the province.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / diagnosis
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • South Africa / epidemiology
  • Students / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires