Childhood maltreatment, psychological dysregulation, and risky sexual behaviors in female adolescents

Jennie G. Noll, Katherine J. Haralson, Erica M. Butler, Chad E. Shenk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


ObjectiveMaltreated female adolescents are at risk for engaging in sexual behaviors consistent with HIV infection and teen pregnancy. The current study applied a model positing the key role of psychological dysregulation in the development of adolescent females' sexual behavior.MethodsThe sample consisted of adolescent females aged 14-17 years who had experienced substantiated childhood maltreatment (n=275) and a demographically matched, non-maltreated comparison group (n=210).ResultsMultiple mediator analysis revealed that, when in company with a host of plausible mechanisms, sexual preoccupation mediated the relationship between psychological dysregulation and risky sexual behaviors.ConclusionMaltreated females may have difficulty regulating emotions, cognitions, and behaviors, which, when coupled with a propensity to entertain sexual thoughts and consume sexually explicit materials, may increase the likelihood that they act on sexual impulses and engage in high-risk sexual behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)743-752
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of pediatric psychology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Aug 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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