The Relationship of Sexual Abuse with Self-Esteem, Depression, and Problematic Internet Use in Korean Adolescents (2017)

Psychiatry Investig. 2017 May;14(3):372-375. doi: 10.4306/pi.2017.14.3.372.

Kim BN1, Park S2, Park MH3.


The association of sexual victimization with self-esteem, depression, and problematic internet use was examined in Korean adolescents. A total of 695 middle and high school students were recruited (413 boys, 282 girls, mean age, 14.06±1.37 years). The participants were administered the Early Trauma Inventory Self Report-Short Form (ETISR-SF), Rosenberg’s Self-Esteem Scale (RSES), the Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI), and Young’s Internet Addiction Test (IAT). The associations between sexual abuse and the level of self-esteem, depressive symptoms, and problematic internet use were analyzed. Adolescents who had experienced sexual abuse showed lower self-esteem, more depressive symptoms, and greater problematic internet use compared with adolescents who had not experienced sexual abuse. In the path model, sexual abuse predicted lower self-esteem (β=-0.11; 95% CI=-0.20, -0.04; p=0.009), which predicted higher depressive symptoms (β=-0.34; 95% CI=-0.40, -0.27; p=0.008). Depressive symptoms predicted problematic internet use in a positive way (β=0.23; 95% CI=0.16-0.29; p=0.013). Sexual abuse also predicted problematic internet use directly (β=0.20; 95% CI=0.12-0.27; p=0.012). The results of the present study indicate that sexually abused adolescents had a higher risk of depression and problematic internet use. For sexually abused adolescents, programs aimed at raising self-esteem and preventing internet addiction, as well as mental health screening, are needed.

KEYWORDS:  Depression; Problematic internet use; Self-esteem; Sexual abuse

PMID: 28539957

PMCID: PMC5440441

DOI: 10.4306/pi.2017.14.3.372