Methods: This analysis is based on the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health publicly available dataset (N»5,000). Measures are drawn from participants’ adolescence (Wave I, mean age=16), transition to adulthood (Wave III, mean age=21), and young adulthood (Wave IV, mean age=28). Our independent variable is a composite measure based on retrospective reports in waves III and IV of child sexual abuse by a parent or other caregiver before age 18. Dependent variables are high school graduation (Wave III), educational attainment, job instability, and welfare use (Wave IV). Analyses presented here are preliminary and included multivariate regression models to control for other types of child maltreatment (i.e., neglect, physical, and emotional abuse) and cofounding factors measured in Wave I. Statistical analyses were conducted in STATA/SE 14.0 and accounted for sample weights. Future analysis will explore gender differences.
Results: In this analytical sample, 7.4% (N=400) participants reported child sexual abuse (6.1% males and 8.8% females). Findings from multivariate models showed that by mean age 21, participants who reported child sexual abuse were less likely to have obtained a high school diploma (AOR=0.51, p<.001), compared to those with no experiences of child maltreatment. In adulthood, compared to no abuse, child sexual abuse was associated with lower educational attainment (AOR=0.49, p<.001), increased number of times fired in the previous year (B=0.53, p=.006), and welfare use (AOR=1.45, p=.028).
Conclusion: Findings from this study suggest that those who report child sexual abuse experience greater socioeconomic disadvantages in adulthood. Programs to prevent child sexual abuse are crucial, not only to reduce the costs associated with negative mental health outcomes, but also to address the potential loss in years of education, work participation, and government financial assistance in adulthood. Future research is necessary to better understand the mechanisms through which child sexual abuse negatively impact individuals’ socioeconomic trajectories