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Revista de Saúde Pública

On-line version ISSN 1518-8787Print version ISSN 0034-8910


CHAVEZ AYALA, Ruben et al. Factors for sexual abuse during childhood and adolescence in students of Morelos, Mexico. Rev. Saúde Pública [online]. 2009, vol.43, n.3, pp.506-514. ISSN 1518-8787.

OBJECTIVE: To estimate the prevalence and factors associated with sexual abuse in childhood and adolescence. METHODS: Study conducted in a sample of students in the state of Morelos, Mexico, in 2004-2005. Participants (n=1730) were drawn from a cohort of 13,293 students aged 12 to 24 years. Data were collected by means of a questionnaire comprising parts of validated scales. The variables studied were: sociodemographic (gender, living area, socioeconomic status), family (parental education, parental addictions, violence between parents), individual psychological factors (self-esteem assessed using the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory, depression, alcohol consumption), intrafamily violence (assessed through Strauss Scale) and sexual abuse. Multiple logistic regression assessed the risk factors associated. Odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals were estimated. RESULTS: Of all students studied, 4.7% (n=80) reported attempted sexual abuse and 2.9% (n=50) were victims of consummated sexual abuse. Women had higher prevalence of attempted (6.1%) abuse; 3.6% of females and 1.9% of men were sexually abused. Main perpetrators were boyfriends in women and a stranger in men. Mean age was 12.02 years old among females and 11.71 years old among men. Factors found to be associated with abuse: high parental alcohol consumption (OR = 3.37, 95% CI 1.40;8.07), violence toward the mother (OR = 4.49, 95% CI 1.54;13.10), female gender (OR = 2.47, 95% CI 1.17;5.24), being a victim of great domestic violence (OR = 3.58, 95% CI 1.32;9.67). High self-esteem was a protective factor (OR = 0.27, 95% CI 0.09;0.75). CONCLUSIONS: Overall sexual abuse occurs at the age of 12 in both males and females, and it is more frequent among females. Most victims do not report abuse.

Keywords : Child; Adolescent; Child Abuse, Sexual; Sexual Violence; Socioeconomic Factors; Health Vulnerability; Gender and Health.

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