Objective. A total of 68 sexually abused children and their nonoffending parents were reassessed 5 years after presentation and were compared with a cohort of children of similar age and sex who were not known to have been abused.

Method. Outcome measures were behavior, depression, self-esteem, anxiety, eating problems, drug use, suicide attempts, self-injury, running away, criminal activity, and attributional style. Recent life events, demographics, family functioning, and mothers' mental health were taken into account when examining outcome.

Results. Although the abused children had experienced more negative life events, were from lower socioeconomic groups, had more changes in parent figures, and had mothers who were more psychologically distressed, multiple regression analysis showed that after allowing for these and other demographic factors, there were still significant differences between the groups after the 5 years. The abused children displayed more disturbed behavior, had lower self-esteem, were more depressed or unhappy, and were more anxious than controls. Sexually abused children had significantly higher levels of bingeing, self-injury, and suicide attempts.

Conclusions. It is clear that many children who are sexually abused have ongoing problems. Their ongoing problems may be indicative of false beliefs about themselves and the sexual abuse experience.

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