Behavioral risk, emotional risk, and child abuse among adolescents in a nonclinical setting

R. A. Hibbard, G. M. Ingersoll, D. P. Orr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

69 Scopus citations


In this replication study of adolescents in a nonclinical setting, the prevalence of reported problem behaviors, emotions, and abuse is evaluated, and the impact of abuse on multivariate emotional and behavioral risk is assessed. A total of 3998 students (69%) in a rural midwestern community in grades 7 to 12 participated in the study. Almost 20% of the students reported some form of physical and/or sexual abuse, with more girls than boys reporting sexual abuse (χ2 = 48.5, P < .001). Some problem behaviors (alcohol use) and emotions (trouble sleeping, difficulty with anger) were common among all adolescents and some were strongly associated with a history of abuse (especially, considering or attempting suicide, running away, laxative use, and vomiting to lose weight). Higher emotional and behavioral risk scores among abused students were confirmed. The effects of physical and sexual abuse on risk scores were independent and additive; no interaction was observed. An interaction of gender and sexual abuse on problem behavior was observed, with problem behavior being significantly greater among sexually abused boys. The results confirm increased risk of problem behaviors and negative feelings among abused adolescents when compared with nonabused peers, and better define influences of gender and abuse type on emotional and behavioral risks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)896-901
Number of pages6
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 1990



  • abuse
  • adolescent
  • behavior
  • emotion
  • risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

Cite this

Hibbard, R. A., Ingersoll, G. M., & Orr, D. P. (1990). Behavioral risk, emotional risk, and child abuse among adolescents in a nonclinical setting. Pediatrics, 86(6), 896-901.