Youth self-report of physical and sexual abuse: a latent class analysis.
OBJECTIVE: To determine if meaningful groups of at-risk pre-adolescent youth could be identified based on their self-report of physical and sexual abuse histories. METHODS: Youth participating in a consortium of ongoing longitudinal studies were interviewed using an audio-computer assisted self-interview (A-CASI) when they were approximately 12 years of age to obtain information about their perceived experiences of physical (18 items) and sexual (12 items) abuse. In addition, Child Protective Service records were reviewed and the taxonomy developed for defining maltreatment characteristics (Barnett, Manly, & Cicchetti, 1993) was applied. A total of 795 youth completed the age 12 interview and had their records reviewed during the period from birth to the time of their age 12 interview. A latent variable modeling approach, specifically latent class analysis (LCA), was used to generate profiles of youth based on their endorsements of the physical and sexual abuse items. These profiles were then compared to CPS reports of physical or sexual abuse to determine their validity. RESULTS: The LCA identified 4 interpretable classes or groups of pre-adolescent youth. Based on the pattern of responses to specific items the classes were identified as follows: (1) no physical or sexual abuse; (2) high physical abuse/low sexual abuse; (3) no physical abuse/moderate sexual abuse; and (4) high physical and sexual abuse. Follow-up analyses indicated that the odds of a CPS report for Classes 2, 3, and 4 compared to Class 1 were significantly greater (2.21, 2.55, and 5.10, respectively). CONCLUSION: The latent variable modeling approach allowed for the identification of meaningful groups of youth that accounted for both the occurrence of multiple types of abuse as well as differing severities associated with each type. It is suggested that this methodological approach may be most useful in future efforts to identify the antecedents and consequences of maltreatment. PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: The results of the present study not only have implications for future research efforts, but also suggest that in practice, youth at-risk for maltreatment may be reliable and valid reporters of their physical and sexual abuse experiences.
Nooner, KB; Litrownik, AJ; Thompson, R; Margolis, B; English, DJ; Knight, ED; Everson, MD; Roesch, S
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