Keywords: CSE Effects

Long-Range Effects of Child and Adolescent Sexual Experiences - Myths, Mores, and Menaces

C.Kilpatrick, Allie

Read this book here: Kilpatrick_1992.pdf: < kilpatrick_1992.pdf >


The findings of this study on the long-range consequences of child and adolescent sexual experiences provide data that refute existing myths, delineate the factors of menaces in child and adolescent sexual experiences that have impact on adult functioning, and raise questions concerning the confusion of mores with actual harm done.

Myths that are challenged relate to

  • incidence rates of incest,
  • the impact of mother's employment,
  • historical trends,
  • ethnic differences,
  • women's reactions to early sexual experiences, and
  • long-range effects.

Specific factors or menaces from child and adolescent sexual experiences that correlate with adult dysfunctioning consist of no one factor but rather of interactions of various factors. These factors include

  • the identity of the partner (whether a relative or close family member, not just older) and
  • sexual behaviors that are abusive, forced, pressured, and guilt producing.

Questions regarding the confusion of mores with actual harm done are raised by the finding that older partners are not found to be a significant factor in correlations with later adult functioning. This finding challenges the linear assumption that all children are victimized by any type of sexual experience with a person who is 5 or more years older than they. One must guard against making assumptions that have no empirical bases and against buttressing existing mores that may be actually harmful to children and adolescents. Care must be taken that clinicians and researchers do no harm but build on the best available scientific evidence and practice wisdom.