Female adolescents with a history of child neglect and sexual abuse are more likely to exhibit risky sexual behavior

New findings released by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine concluded that female children with a history of emotional neglect or severe sexual abuse were more likely to exhibit risky sexual behaviors later in adolescence.

For the study, released in the journal Child Development, 882 female adolescents who reported maltreatment during childhood, were evaluated. Various forms of maltreatment were taken into consideration, in addition to several forms of risky sexual behaviors.

Researchers identified children who arise from low socioeconomic status and minority groups, to be at a higher risk of neglect, sexual abuse, and subsequently, riskier sexual behavior.

“Our findings among an underrepresented sample of Latina and Black adolescent girls and young women contribute to the understanding of sexual risk trajectories among girls of color,” according to Li Niu, co-author of the study, as stated in a press release.

“This study provides unique information about patterns of abuse and neglect and underscores the need for better and more comprehensive tools in clinical and research settings. In addition, the larger society needs to recognize crucial social forces, such as stigma and victim-blaming, that affect girls’ sexual development, and work together to address factors such as gender inequalities and stereotypes,” Niu also stated.

The findings are a step forward to improving prevention and intervention efforts, as well as diagnostic tools used to address neglect and abuse among female adolescents.