Self-esteem, depression, substance usage, and locus of control in sexually abused adolescents

Norah Mary Sargent, University of Rhode Island

Abstract

Significant increases in reported cases of childhood sexual abuse justify the need to learn more about this phenomenon in nonclinical populations. Empirical research has demonstrated a high incidence of childhood sexual abuse histories in community samples of adult populations, but little information exists about contemporary adolescents in nonclinical settings. This study used an anonymous survey to investigate the presence of sexual abuse histories in a high school sample, and to determine levels of depression, self-esteem, substance abuse and locus of control, in affected students. Chi square tests were used to analyze the scores on these variables for students reporting childhood sexual abuse experiences versus nonreporting students. The effects of childhood sexual abuse experiences on overall psychological symptomatology also were compared through a Multivariate Analysis of Variance.^ High school students who reported histories of childhood sexual abuse, scored higher on measures of depression and probable substance abuse, lower on self-esteem, and indicated a more external locus of control than did their counterparts who did not report such histories. However, history of childhood sexual abuse was associated significantly with depression, self-esteem and sexual abuse was associated significantly with depression, self-esteem and external locus of control but not probable substance abuse. Only depression, of the four dependent variables, explained a small proportion of the shared variance. These results demonstrate that a brief anonymous survey can detect important data to guide curriculum development and counseling initiatives within a secondary school setting. The broader clinical implications of the results also are discussed along with suggestions for future research. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Clinical

Recommended Citation

Norah Mary Sargent, "Self-esteem, depression, substance usage, and locus of control in sexually abused adolescents" (1996). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI9723573.
http://digitalcommons.uri.edu/dissertations/AAI9723573

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