Incidences of sexual contacts of children: Impacts of family characteristics and family structure from a national sample

Patrick Leung, University of Houston
Russell L. Curtis, University of Houston
Susan C. Mapp, Elizabethtown College


Objective: This study analyzes the prevalence of child sexual touching before puberty (age 11 or younger) and its connection to family structure during adolescence. Method: Data were analyzed from the National Health and Social Life Survey, a stratified random probability survey of 3432 non-institutionalized respondents who were 18 to 59. years of age. Results: A total of 566 respondents (16.5%) reported prepubertal sexual touching. The overall percentage differences between these "reported" respondents and the rest of the respondents by gender, race or socioeconomic status measures were not significant. The odds of being touched were 1.589 times higher when the child did not live with both parents at age 14 due to parental divorce, and 2.134 times higher due to institutionalization of one or both parents. Conclusions: Policies should focus on supporting single mothers and parents who both work outside of the home to reduce the likelihood that children are left vulnerable and at risk of being sexually touched. © 2010.