Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Cashel, Mary Louise


The primary objective of the current study involved examining the influence of sexual abuse on high-risk sexual behavior and substance abuse among female juvenile offenders. Reports of social support from parents and close friends were examined as potential moderators of these relationships. The deviant behaviors of peers and family members were examined with respect to the outcomes for the entire sample. A total of 93 female youth incarcerated at a Midwestern state correctional facility participated. A significant group difference between abused and non-abused youth was found for substance abuse; youth who had been sexually abused reported higher levels of substance abuse than non-abused youth. Social support was not a significant moderator between abuse and the outcomes. Furthermore, for the total sample, peer delinquency predicted substance abuse and high-risk sexual behavior. These findings have implications for prevention and intervention programs in correctional settings and the community. However, potential problems with data collection and statistical power are discussed. Additional research needs to be conducted to determine the direction and mechanisms of the relationships found in this study.




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