Study ties abused children
Cougar News Staff
Research conducted at UH has revealed that
people who experience unsolicited sexual touching before puberty have a
chance of spending time in jail when they
are teenagers or adults.
Russell Curtis and Karl Eschbach, who are
both associate professors of sociology, and associate professor of social
Leung analyzed data from the 1993 National
Health and Social Life survey to reach their conclusions. The survey randomly
3,362 people, aged 18 to 59, throughout
the United States.
The UH researchers focused on people who
were sexually touched before puberty and what happened to them later in
The results showed that individuals who
experienced unsolicited sexual encounters before age 12 were significantly
more likely to
serve jail time later. They were also
more likely to be sexually promiscuous, run away from home at an early
age and engage in
Socioeconomic background had more influence
on these outcomes than did factors such as race and gender, the researchers
"While there were more actual reports from
those within upper socioeconomic backgrounds, the overall impact on unsolicited
sexual touching is greater on lower-income
groups," Curtis said, adding that since people from middle- and upper-class
backgrounds have greater access to help
when such events occur, they may be better able to move past them.
"My contention is that individuals from
middle and upper families have easier access to adaptive resources, such
while lower-income groups are less able
to adapt," Curtis said.
Males who were touched before puberty were
2.5 times more likely to be incarcerated than those who were not, and females
twice as likely.
Males who were sexually touched before
puberty were also found to be 2.66 times more likely to use needles to
inject illegal drugs.
The UH researchers said previous studies
in a similar vein consisted of nonrepresentative clinical samples, which
"From our findings, we hope for three future
outcomes," Leung said.
"First, more preventative education about
prepubertal touching what it is, how it affects individuals
and counseling for those who
have been touched," he said.
"Second, there is a need for more services
for those children who have been touched, including counselors who are
culturally savvy," Leung said. "Third,
schools need to take a more active role in helping to identify and define
The survey was published in the January
2002 issue of the Journal of Child Abuse & Neglect.