Children and Adolescents With Sexual Behavior Problems

Elizabeth J. Letourneau, Sonja K. Schoenwald, Ashli J. Sheldow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Youth with substantial sexual behavior problems (n = 166) were compared with youth from the same sample with few sexual behavior problems (n = 413) and with no sexual behavior problems (n = 943). It was hypothesized that youth with significant sexual behavior problems would be characterized by higher rates of sexual and physical abuse and higher rates of internalizing problems relative to youth without sexual behavior problems and that all youth would evidence a positive treatment response to multisystemic therapy. Relative to youth with no sexual behavior problems, youth with significant sexual behavior problems were more likely to have been sexually or physically abused and had higher rates of internalizing and externalizing behavior problems. These youth were also more likely to include girls, were younger, and had more social problems than youth with no sexual behavior problems. Youth in all groups responded with clinically relevant and statistically significant reductions in problem behaviors at posttreatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-61
Number of pages13
JournalChild maltreatment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescents
  • Children
  • Multisystemic therapy (MST)
  • Sexual behavior problems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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