Risk behaviors and resiliency within physically abused adolescents

Daniel F. Perkins, Kenneth R. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Objective: This study examines the relationship between physical abuse and several risk behaviors, and thriving behaviors, and the relationship between potential protective factors and engagement in risk and thriving behaviors among victims of physical abuse. Three categories of potential protective factors were examined: (1) individual characteristics, (2) family processes, and (3) extra-familial factors. We expected that high levels of protective factors would reduce engagement in risk behaviors (i.e., alcohol use, tobacco use, drug use, sexual activity, antisocial behavior, attempted suicide, and purging) among abused adolescents. Results: Across all the risk behaviors, abused adolescents reported a higher frequency of engagement than non-abused adolescents. Several protective factors were identified for the seven risk behaviors. Peer group characteristics was a significant predictor in all seven of the logistic regressions, followed by positive school climate (six models), religiosity (five models), other adult support (five models), family support (four models), view of the future (two models), and involvement in extra-curricular activities (two models). The variance accounted for by the models ranged from 2% (risk behavior of purging) to 26% (risk behavior of alcohol use and antisocial behavior). Conclusions: The findings indicate that, with the exception of sexual activity, the majority of abused adolescents were not engaging in risk behaviors; however, significantly more abused adolescents were engaging in risk behaviors than their non-abused counterparts. In addition, that protective factors were found to exist at various levels of the adolescents' ecology has strong implications for practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)547-563
Number of pages17
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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