The Sexual Abuse of Boys: Prevalence and Descriptive Characteristics of Childhood Victimizations

Leslie I. Risin, Mary P. Koss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Recent clinical reports reveal that a sizable proportion of referrals involve boys. But because child sexual abuse is a problem that is often concealed, studies of reported cases represent only a fraction of the total cases that actually occur. A small number of studies have examined the prevalence of unreported sexual abuse among nonclinical samples. The goal of the present study was to extend this previous work to a national basis. Self-reports of childhood sexual experiences were obtained from 2,972 men in an approximately representative national sample of students in higher education. Although the results are limited in generalizability to other students, this group represents 26% of all persons in the United States aged 18-24. In the present sample, 7.3% of the men reported a childhood experience that met at least one of the following three criteria for sexual abuse: (1) existence of age discrepancy between the child and perpetrator, (2) use of some form of coercion to obtain participation by the victim, and/or (3) a perpetrator who was a care giver or authority figure. The descriptive characteristics of the abusive incidents are briefly reviewed and those characteristics that differentiated among three levels of sexual abuse (exhibition, fondling, and penetration) are presented. Operational definitions of sexual abuse and the behavioral specificity of sexual abuse screening questions for use in future research on men and boys are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-323
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of interpersonal violence
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'The Sexual Abuse of Boys: Prevalence and Descriptive Characteristics of Childhood Victimizations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this