The current study examined patterns of psychopathology, drug and alcohol use, and sexual behavior associated with childhood abuse and neglect in a high-risk sample of low-income African American girls seeking mental health treatment. Participants (N=177) were African American girls recruited from mental health clinics serving low-income communities in Chicago, IL and followed over six waves of data collection (T1-T6) reflecting early (mean age 14) to late (mean age 17) adolescence. Child abuse and neglect history was determined from adolescent and caregiver reports. Latent curve modeling examined patterns of internalizing and externalizing psychopathology, drug and alcohol use, sexual experience, and risky sexual behavior reported by girls and associations with reported child abuse and neglect. Overall, these trajectories indicated a decrease in internalizing and externalizing symptoms, stability of drug and alcohol use, and an increase in sexual experience and risky sexual behaviors over time. Child abuse and neglect was associated with increased internalizing symptoms and sexual experience at baseline and with externalizing symptoms and risky sexual behavior both at baseline and the final point. Child abuse and neglect was not significantly associated with alcohol or drug use. This study adds to the literature on the long-term consequences of child abuse and neglect by demonstrating patterns of psychopathology and risky behavior that persist over time in a high-risk group of girls with self or parent reported histories of abuse and neglect. Interventions that address externalizing problems and health risk behaviors may be of particular importance for this population.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.chiabu.2015.02.009
View details for Web of Science ID 000356907500011
View details for PubMedID 25869184