Prevalence of childhood sexual abuse among incarcerated males in county jail

Regina J. Johnson, Michael W. Ross, Wendell C. Taylor, Mark L. Williams, Raul I. Carvajal, Ronald J. Peters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

51 Scopus citations


Objective: The current study examined the prevalence and characteristics of childhood sexual abuse in a jailed-based population. Methodology: A retrospective, self-reported survey was administered over an 8-week period to a random sample of 100 men who were incarcerated in a county jail in Southeastern Texas. The survey included questions about childhood sexual experiences before and after puberty, drug history and use, and sexual risk-taking behaviors. Results: Of the 100 male inmates who participated in this study, 59% reported experiencing some form of sexual abuse before puberty, and all such instances occurred before or at the age of 13 years. The first episode of childhood sexual abuse began at an average age of 9.6 years (SD = 2.4), and ended at an average age of 13.0 years (SD = 2.3). Kissing and touching without intercourse (64%) was the common pattern of sexual abuse experience reported. The total number of perpetrators was 165, with 10% male and 90% female. Friends (n = 72) and family (n = 56) were the most frequent perpetrators. Conclusion: Childhood sexual abuse may be more prevalent among inmates than among males in the general population. These results show a high percentage of inmates who report a history of childhood sexual abuse; this rate is higher than those reported by other studies for incarcerated males. The findings support the belief held by professionals in the criminal justice field that a significant number of incarcerated males may have been victims of sexual abuse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-86
Number of pages12
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2006


  • Adult survivors
  • Child maltreatment
  • Childhood sexual abuse
  • Incarcerated males
  • Sexual abuse males
  • Victimization

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    Johnson, R. J., Ross, M. W., Taylor, W. C., Williams, M. L., Carvajal, R. I., & Peters, R. J. (2006). Prevalence of childhood sexual abuse among incarcerated males in county jail. Child Abuse and Neglect, 30(1), 75-86.