Objective: The aims of this cross-sectional survey study were to examine the prevalence and correlates of childhood physical and sexual abuse in adolescents living in the rural areas of Taiwan. Method: A sample of indigenous (n = 756) and non-indigenous (n = 928) adolescents was randomly selected from junior high schools in the rural areas of southern Taiwan. Structured questionnaires were used to collect data anonymously. The prevalence of childhood physical and sexual abuse was examined and their correlates were examined using univariate and multivariate logistic regression. Results: A total of 374 (22.2%) adolescents reported experience of physical abuse and 42 (2.5%) reported sexual abuse in their childhood. Multivariate logistic regression analyses revealed that the adolescents who perceived poor family function, frequent family conflicts and whose parents drank habitually were more likely to experience physical abuse. The adolescents who were indigenous and perceived frequent family conflicts were more likely to experience childhood sexual abuse. Further analyses indicated that indigenous boys had a higher risk of being the victims of sexual abuse than non-indigenous boys, while no difference was found between indigenous and non-indigenous girls. Conclusion: The results remind clinical workers of the importance of taking abuse histories from adolescents on a routine basis, and this is especially important in the case of dysfunctional families. Practice implications: Adolescents who live in rural areas have less social and medical resources for early detection and intervention of physical and sexual abuse. Correlates of physical and sexual abuse identified in this study may be helpful for the design and implementation of preventive intervention. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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