Childhood maltreatment, emotional distress, and early adolescent sexual intercourse: Multi-informant perspectives on parental monitoring. Academic Article uri icon

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  • This prospective investigation used multi-informant models to examine whether parental monitoring moderated associations between child maltreatment and either emotional distress or sexual intercourse. Data included 637 youth in the Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect (LONGSCAN). Child maltreatment was determined by lifetime Child Protective Service records and youth self-report and included sexual, physical, psychological abuse, and neglect (age 12). The moderating variable was youth- and caregiver-reported parental monitoring (age 12). Outcome variables were emotional distress (age 12) and sexual intercourse (age 14). Analyses included multi- and individual-informant models, adjusting for age, ethnicity/race, family income, and study site. Rates of parental monitoring did not differ by gender, but gender-specific analyses found that among girls, but not boys, youth-reported parental monitoring buffered the effect of maltreatment on emotional distress. Subtype analyses found that the buffering effects of monitoring on emotional distress were strongest for sexual and physical abuse and when youth experienced multiple subtypes of maltreatment. Caregiver-reported monitoring was not associated with reduced emotional distress. Youth and caregiver reports of parental monitoring were inversely associated with sexual intercourse, regardless of maltreatment history. Findings suggest that promoting parental monitoring among caregivers, and perceptions of monitoring among youth, may prevent early sexual intercourse regardless of maltreatment history. Promoting parental monitoring among youth with a history of maltreatment, especially girls or those who have experienced sexual or physical abuse or multiple subtypes of abuse, may reduce the likelihood of emotional distress.


  • Oberlander, Sarah E
  • Wang, Yan
  • Thompson, Richard
  • Lewis, Terri
  • Proctor, Laura J
  • Isbell, Patricia
  • English, Diana J
  • Dubowitz, Howard
  • Litrownik, Alan J
  • Black, Maureen M

publication date

  • December 2011