Outcomes of child sexual contacts: Patterns of incarcerations from a national sample

Russell L. Curtis, Patrick Leung, Elroy Sullivan, Karl Eschbach, Margie Stinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Objective: In a test of the relationships between sexual touching before puberty and later incarcerations during adolescence and adulthood, two theoretical models were examined. These models focus on examination of crime from the developmental origins of criminals and the adaptive and maladaptive outcomes of early experiences. Method: Data were taken from the National Health and Social Life Survey to study the sexual touching and social origin variables in childhood and incarceration variable during teen years. The sample was a stratified, random sample of 3,362 adults (18 to 59 years of age) throughout the United States. Results: Data support inferences from the two interrelated models. Respondents reporting touching before puberty were significantly more likely to experience incarceration. They were also more likely to engage in behaviors as teenagers that were associated with an increased probability of jailing. Such behaviors include sexual promiscuity and early departure from the parental family. Conclusions: These findings are consistent for first jailing as a teenager and as an adult, as well as for those with short (less than a week) or longer (a week or more) spells of incarceration. Prepubertal sexual touching has a significant and enduring effect on later adolescent and adult incarcerations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)719-736
Number of pages18
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Childhood sexual touching
  • Incarcerations
  • Sexual abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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