SUICIDAL IDEATIONS AMONG SEXUALLY ABUSED CHILDREN: A CRITICAL NEED FOR BETTER UNDERSTANDING
CPS ePoster Library. Bernard-Bonnin A. Jun 1, 2017; 176569
Anne-Claude Bernard-Bonnin
Anne-Claude Bernard-Bonnin
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Abstract
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Background: Child sexual abuse is clearly associated with multiple difficulties during adulthood, such as posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS), depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, suicidal ideations and suicide attempts (Fergusson, McLeod & Horwood, 2013). Prior studies also suggest that children who have disclosed sexual abuse may show PTSS (Hébert, Langevin & Daigneault, 2016) and behavior problems (Hébert, 2011) in the short term. However, very few studies have investigated suicidal ideations among young victims.

Objectives: This study attempted to identify the prevalence and the predictors of suicidal ideations among sexually abused children.

Methods: The sample consisted of 447 sexually abused children (319 girls and 128 boys) between 6 to 12 years of age. Participants were recruited during the initial evaluation at various centers located in Quebec province and offering specialized services for sexually abused children. An adaptation of the History of Victimization Form (Parent et Hébert, 2006) was used to assess the characteristics of abuse based on information from the child's medical or clinical record. A self-esteem scale, the Self-Perception Profile for Children (Harter, 1985), was completed by children. To assess suicidal ideations, children were asked “ Do you sometimes want to die?” (Valla, Bergeron, St-Georges & Berthiaume, 2000). Logistic regression analysis was used to test the contribution of gender, characteristics of sexual abuse and self-esteem to the prediction of suicidal ideations.

Results: A total of 10.7% of the sample reported less severe abuse (physical contact over clothing), 27.7% severe abuse (physical contact under clothing without attempted penetration) and 61.6% more severe abuse (penetration or attempted penetration). The results showed that 1 in 3 children have had suicidal ideations. Logistic regression analyses indicated that being a girl (Exp(B) = 1.97, p =0.016), having been subjected to intrusive gestures (Exp(B) =1.71, p = 0.031), having been abused by a family member (Exp(B) = 1.85, p = 0.024) and having a low self-esteem (Exp(B) = 0.42, p < 0.001) are all predictors of suicidal ideations.

Conclusion: This research highlighted the high prevalence of suicidal ideations among sexually abused children. More efforts should be done in the future to investigate this topic among young victims, and to include assessment and treatment of suicidal ideations in child sexual abuse interventions.

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