Exposure to childhood sexual and physical abuse and subsequent educational achievement outcomes

Child Abuse Negl. 2007 Oct;31(10):1101-14. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2007.03.022. Epub 2007 Nov 8.


Objective: This paper examined the relationship between exposure to sexual and physical abuse (CSA and CPA) in childhood and later educational achievement outcomes in late adolescence and early adulthood in a birth cohort of over 1,000 children studied to age 25.

Method: Retrospective data on CSA and CPA were gathered at ages 18 and 21 and used to form a best estimate of exposure to CSA and CPA. The relationship between CSA, CPA, and self-reported educational outcomes to 25 years was examined using logistic regression models that took into account social background, parental factors, and individual factors.

Results: Increasing exposure to CSA and CPA was significantly associated with failing to achieve secondary school qualifications (CSA: B=.53, SE=.13, p<.0001; CPA: B=.62, SE=.12, p<.0001), gaining a Higher School Certificate (CSA: B=-.48, SE=.13, p<.001; CPA: B=-.78, SE=.14, p<.001), attending university (CSA: B=-.29, SE=.13, p<.05; CPA: B=-.45, SE=.13, p<.001), and gaining a university degree (CSA: B=-.54, SE=.18, p<.005; CPA: B=-.64, SE=.17, p<.001). Adjustment for confounding social, parental, and individual factors explained most of these associations. After control for confounding factors, omnibus tests of the associations between CSA and outcomes and CPA and outcomes failed to reach statistical significance (CSA: Wald chi(2) (4)=7.72, p=.10; CPA: Wald chi(2) (4)=8.26, p=.08).

Conclusions: The effects of exposure to CSA and CPA on later educational achievement outcomes are largely explained by the social, family, and individual context within which exposure to abuse takes place.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Adult Survivors of Child Abuse*
  • Data Collection / methods
  • Educational Status*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • New Zealand
  • Retrospective Studies