Child sexual assault: risk factors for girls

Child Abuse Negl. 2013 Sep;37(9):643-52. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2013.06.009. Epub 2013 Jul 27.


To identify prospectively measured risk factors of sexual assault (SA) among girls age 17 and younger. The data come from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and are derived from interviews with 1,087 girls, their primary caregivers, and household heads. The data were collected from the girls' first year of life through their early twenties. Factors measured during childhood were used to predict whether the girls experienced a subsequent first sexual assault before the age of 18. Prospectively measured risk factors associated with subsequent child SA included the absence of one or both parents, maternal education less than college, family income below 400% of the federal poverty threshold, low caregiver warmth, child internalizing and externalizing behaviors, impulsivity, low achievement scores, and having been classified by their school as needing special education. Girls with behavioral health problems and learning challenges are at heightened risk for sexual assault. Research on behavioral health consequences of SA should control for preexisting SA risk factors to more accurately estimate the impact of child SA on subsequent behavioral health.

Keywords: Child rape; Child sexual assault; Prospective study; Risk factors.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / prevention & control*
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / trends*
  • Child Behavior
  • Child, Preschool
  • Disabled Children*
  • Educational Status
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors