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Sexual Risk-Taking Among Recently Emancipated Female Foster Youth: Sexual Trauma and Failed Family Reunification Experiences
Yates, T. M.
Published: Electronically published in 2016 (a more recently published version of this article may be available)
Journal of Research on Adolescence
Foster youth have disproportionately high rates of sexual risk behaviors, including an earlier age at sexual debut and engaging in more unprotected sex than peers with no history of out-of-home placement. Some studies have identified child maltreatment, particularly sexual abuse, as a risk factor for later sexual risk-taking, but none have examined how child welfare placement experiences relate to youth’s sexual risk-taking. In this study, the authors investigated relations among child maltreatment, child welfare placements, and sexual risk-taking in a sample of 114 recently emancipated female foster youth. They found that child sexual abuse and failed reunifications with parents were associated with greater sexual risk-taking, and that dissociative symptoms exacerbated the relation between sexual abuse and sexual risk-taking. Drawing on their findings, the authors suggest promising directions for future research and practice. Modified Author Abstract.