New research finds parents who struggled with substance dependence, intimate partner violence & mental illness were more likely to have been victims of childhood sexual abuseCategories: Esme Fuller-Thomson
New research led by Professor Esme Fuller-Thomson has found that adults whose parents struggled with substance dependence, intimate partner violence & mental illness were over 10 times more likely to have been victims of childhood sexual abuse. The study, co-authored by Senyo Agbeyaka, a recent graduate of FIFSW’s Master of Social Work program, was featured online in News Medical and PsychCentral.
“The finding of more than a ten-fold difference in the prevalence of sexual abuse from those exposed to three childhood adversities to those with none was quite shocking,” said Agbeyaka, who is now a social worker at University Health Network. “It is rare to see such a big effect and for the effect to be so consistent for both men and women.”
The study was based on two representative community samples: one study conducted in 2010 with 22,868 adults and the second, in 2012, with a different sample of 29,801 adults. The data were drawn from the Brief Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS) and separate analyses were conducted for each sex.
“Our findings have important implications for improved screening for childhood maltreatment by social workers and other health and education professionals working with children,” says Fuller-Thomson. “We must not underestimate the negative impact of parental intimate partner violence, mental illness and substance dependence on the children in the household. Children are very vulnerable to sexual abuse in households where parents are struggling with several of these adversities.”
Fuller-Thomson is Director of the Institute for Life Course and Aging, and holds a cross-appointment to the Department of Family & Community Medicine and the Faculty of Nursing.