Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, Vol. 17, No. 4, October 2005 (
Youth with Problematic Sexualized Behaviors
in the Child Welfare System: A One-Year
William N. Friedrich,
and Marc Archer
This study assessed continuity of problematic sexualized behaviors (PSB) over
a 1-year period. Ninety-seven 10–12-year-olds in either foster boarding homes
or a residential treatment center participated at Time 1. Twelve months later,
78 youth were available for a second data collection assessment. At both data
collection phases, researchers interviewed foster parents or primary therapists
about the youths’ sexual behavior. Findings revealed signiﬁcant continuity in PSB
over time, with children who at Time 1 exhibited PSB signiﬁcantly more likely to
exhibit PSB at Time 2. The reverse was also true in that the absence of PSB at
Time 1 was associated with the absence of PSB at Time 2. In addition, a subset of
speciﬁc PSB behaviors was noted to be most stable, although this varied across
the groups. Youth with PSB exhibited several patterns of persistence in speciﬁc
behaviors over time, including continuity, a mix of continuity and change, and
complete discontinuity. The persistence of PSB over time was most true for the
children living in a residential treatment center, the more disturbed group studied.
We conclude that the persistence of PSB is more likely when the child has other
KEY WORDS: sexual behavior; child welfare.
This study was designed to assess continuity in problematic sexualized be-
haviors in two samples of youth in the child welfare system: youth in a residential
Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.
The Center for Child Welfare Research, Dobbs Ferry, New York .
The Children’s Village, Dobbs Ferry, New York.
New York Foundling Hospital and Vincent Fontana Center for Child Protection, New York.
St. Christopher-Ottilie Services for Children and Families, Jamaica, New York.
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota; e-mail:
2005 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.