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01-09-2014 | Uitgave 3/2014

Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review 3/2014

Prevalence of Sexual Abuse Among Children with Conduct Disorder: A Systematic Review

Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review > Uitgave 3/2014
Roberto Maniglio
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Disclaimer The views expressed are those of the author.


Many clinicians and researchers have speculated that child sexual abuse and conduct disorder co-occur frequently, yet no systematic reviews of literature have specifically addressed both these conditions. To estimate the prevalence of sexual abuse among children with conduct disorder, the pertinent literature was systematically reviewed. Ten databases were searched, supplemented with hand search of reference lists from retrieved papers. Blind assessments of study eligibility and quality were conducted by two independent researchers. Disagreements were resolved by consensus. Twenty-three studies meeting minimum quality criteria that were enough to insure objectivity and not to invalidate results and including 7,256 participants with either conduct disorder or child sexual abuse were examined. The prevalence of child sexual abuse among participants with conduct disorder was 27 %; however, such figure might be underestimated due to selection, sampling, and recall biases; poor assessment methods; and narrow definitions of abuse in included studies. Participants with conduct disorder, compared with healthy individuals, reported higher rates of child sexual abuse. However, compared with other psychiatric populations, they reported similar or lower rates. There was also some evidence suggesting that children with conduct disorder might be more likely to report child physical abuse. Female participants with conduct disorder, compared with males, were significantly more likely to report child sexual abuse. Youths with conduct disorder are at risk of being (or having been) sexually abused, although such risk seems to be neither more specific to nor stronger for these individuals, compared with people with other psychiatric disorders.

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