Awarded Grant to Prevent Violence and Violence-Related Injury


Importance: A major obstacle to developing prevention programs for child sexual abuse is lack of information about its causes and correlates, especially in young offenders. We propose to continue our development of models for understanding sexual abuse perpetration by determining whether factors that distinguish sexual abuse perpetration from delinquent behavior are unique risk factors or causes and correlates of internalizing disorders in youth. Objectives: Aim 1: Determine the generalizability and applicability of a model of child sexual abuse perpetration based in attachment theory. Aim 2: Determine whether hostile masculinity, masculine adequacy, and an impersonal attitude toward sexuality are specific risk factors for sexual aggression. Aim 3: Expand our understanding of how attachment style confers risk for sexual abuse or sexual assault perpetration by including developmental and parental relationship data from primary caregivers. Seven specific hypotheses will be tested. Our central hypothesis is that child sexual abuse perpetration has both unique and shared risk factors with adolescent internalizing disorders and that the causes and correlates of sexual assault differ from those for child sexual abuse perpetration. Participants: We will recruit from probation and treatment programs to enroll male adolescents (n=400), 13-18 years old, who have either sexual abused a child, sexually assaulted a peer or adult, perpetrated a non-contact sex offense (e.g., exposing, voyeurism), or are being seen by a professional for a mental health or substance use disorder. Primary caregivers (n=200) of the adolescents will be recruited from community based sites. Design: This study uses a multi-method, cross-sectional design. Data will be collected from the four groups of adolescents and their primary caregivers by use of chart reviews, interviews, computer-administered self-report protocol, and blind ratings of the History of Attachments Interview. Setting: This project is a continuation of a successful collaboration between researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Program in Human Sexuality, treatment providers, juvenile justice agencies, and residential placement agencies.