Effect of child abuse and neglect on risk behaviors in inner-city minority female adolescents and young adults

Angela Diaz, Viswanathan Shankar, Anne Nucci-Sack, Lourdes Oriana Linares, Anthony Salandy, Howard D. Strickler, Robert D. Burk, Nicolas F. Schlecht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: Over six million children each year are referred to child protective services for child abuse (sexual, physical and emotional) and neglect (physical and emotional). Objective: While the relationship between child sexual abuse and sexually transmitted infections has been documented, there has been little research regarding the effects of other forms of maltreatment. Participants and setting: 882 inner-city females aged 12–20 years of age seen at a large adolescent and young adult (AYA) health center in New York City between 2012–2017. Methods: History of maltreatment was assessed using the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire. Associations with depressive symptoms, antisocial behavior, peer deviancy, drug/alcohol use, and risky sexual behaviors were assessed. Results: History of maltreatment was common in our cohort of inner-city AYA females, with 59.6 % reporting any type of maltreatment, including sexual abuse (17.5 %), physical abuse (19.5 %) or neglect (26.2 %), and emotional abuse (30.7 %) or neglect (40.4 %). We observed significant associations between all forms of maltreatment and risk of depression, drug/alcohol use, antisocial behaviors, peer deviancy, and risky sexual risk behaviors (including having a higher number of sexual partners, having a sexual partner 5+ years older, and anal sex). Physical and emotional abuse were associated with having unprotected sex while under the influence of drugs/alcohol. Conclusions and relevance: Reporting a history of maltreatment was associated with an increased likelihood of engaging in risky sexual and antisocial behaviors, as well as depression in inner-city female youth. These data highlight the broad, lingering repercussions of all types of child maltreatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104347
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
StatePublished - Mar 2020


  • Adolescent health
  • Alcohol and drug use
  • Child abuse and neglect
  • Depression
  • Risk behaviors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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