A Commentary on Najman, Dunne, Purdie, Boyle, and Coxeter (2005)

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Overall, the study was well done and contributes valuable additional data to understanding the relationship between CSA [childhood sexual abuse] and later adjustment. Nevertheless, the study has several shortcomings that need addressing. These points of concern involve causal inference and statistical precision. [...] In our Discussion, we extensively reviewed other research that indicated that negative family environment factors were consistently confounded with CSA, and that emotional abuse and neglect in particular, but also physical abuse, appeared to be substantially more important factors in accounting for later adjustment problems than CSA. [...]

Based on the foregoing analyses, a more appropriate ending to their Abstract would be: "CSA in the Australian population is common but, according to the data in the current study, is only weakly associated with poorer sexual functioning in adulthood. Whether this association is causal, however, needs further study." [...]

In the scientific literature, too little attention has been paid to the biasing problems that overinclusive definitions of CSA can produce. In the Rind et al. (1998) meta-analysis, we ended the article by specifically addressing this issue. We offered the recommendation to scientific researchers to be more discriminating in the use of the term CSA, using neutral language rather than the value-laden "abuse" in certain circumstances. Our recommendation stemmed not only from the long history of misuse of moralizing language in scientific discussions of sexual behaviors (e.g., masturbation as "self-abuse," homosexuality as "perversion"), but from practical concerns of achieving better construct and predictive validity.

source: 'National Samples, Sexual Abuse in Childhood, and Adjustment in Adulthood: A Commentary on Najman, Dunne, Purdie, Boyle, and Coxeter (2005)' by Bruce Rind & Philip Tromovitch; www.springerlink.com/content/x110w642290649w7/fulltext.html; SpringerLink; 1 December 2006