Keyword: Child Sexual Experiences

Stanley, Jessica L., Bartholomew Kim, & Oram Doug; Gay and Bisexual Men's Age-Discrepant Childhood Sexual Experiences; The Journal of Sex Research; 41(4), 381-389
This study examined childhood sexual abuse (CSA) in gay and bisexual men. We compared

  • the conventional definition of CSA based on age difference with



  • a modified definition of CSA based on perception [CSE - Child Sexual Experience]


to evaluate which definition best accounted for problems in adjustment.

The sample consisted of 192 gay and bisexual men recruited from a randomly selected community sample. Men's descriptions of their CSA experiences [id est: CSE] were coded from taped interviews.

Fifty men (26%) reported sexual experiences before age 17 with someone at least 5 years older, constituting CSA according to the age-based definition.

  • Of these men, 24 (49%) perceived their sexual experiences as negative, coercive, and/or abusive and thus were categorized as perception-based CSA. Participants with perception-based CSA experiences reported higher levels of maladjustment than non-CSA participants.



  • Participants with age-based CSA experiences who perceived their sexual experience as non-negative, noncoercive, and nonabusive [51%?] were similar to non-CSA participants in their levels of adjustment.



These findings suggest that a perception-based CSA definition [CSE] more accurately represents harmful CSA experiences in gay and bisexual men than the conventional age-based definition [CSA].

In conclusion,
... the standard convention of defining age-based childhood sexual abuse as uniformly negative, harmful, and coercive may not accurately represent gay and bisexual men's sexual experiences.
Combining perception-based CSA experience [id est: CSE] with noncoercive, nonnegative, nonabusive experiences, as the age-based definition does, presents a misleading picture of childhood sexual abuse.
An age-based CSA definition inflates prevalence rates of childhood sexual abuse and inaccurately suggests that the maladjustment associated with perception-based CSA [id est CSE] experiences applies to all childhood age-discrepant sexual encounters.
In contrast, these results suggest that gay men with histories of nonnegative, noncoercive childhood sexual experiences [CSE] with older people are as well adjusted as those without histories of age-discrepant childhood sexual experiences.
However, both definitions of CSA [age-based CSA vs experience based CSE] account for only a very small proportion of the variance in adult adjustment problems.
Contrary to popular belief, negative outcomes do not inevitably follow from gay and bisexual men's childhood age-discrepant sexual encounters.