Child abuse is a major public health problem. In order to establish the prevalence of abuse exposure among children, measures need to be age-appropriate, sensitive, reliable and valid. This study aimed to investigate the psychometric properties of the Adverse Childhood Experiences Questionnaire Abuse Short Form (ACE-ASF). The ACE-ASF is an 8-item, retrospective self-report questionnaire measuring lifetime physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Data from a nationally representative sample of 15-year-old, school-going adolescents (n = 1733, 55.5% female) from the Romanian Health Behavior in School-Based Children Study 2014 (HBSC) were analyzed. The factorial structure of the ACE-ASF was tested with Exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and confirmed using Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). Measurement invariance was examined across sex, and internal reliability and concurrent criterion validity were established. Violence exposure was high: 39.7% physical, 32.2% emotional and 13.1% sexual abuse. EFA established a two-factor structure: physical/emotional abuse and sexual abuse. CFA confirmed this model fitted the data well [χ2(df) = 60.526(19); RMSEA = 0.036; CFI/TLI = 0.990/0.986]. Metric invariance was supported across sexes. Internal consistency was good (0.83) for the sexual abuse scale and poor (0.57) for the physical/emotional abuse scale. Concurrent criterion validity confirmed hypothesized relationships between childhood abuse and health-related quality of life, life satisfaction, self-perceived health, bullying victimization and perpetration, externalizing and internalizing behaviors, and multiple health complaints. Results support the ACE-ASF as a valid measure of physical, emotional and sexual abuse in school-aged adolescents. However, the ACE-ASF combines spanking with other types of physical abuse when this should be assessed separately instead. Future research is needed to replicate findings in different youth populations and across age groups.
- Child physical abuse
- Child sexual abuse
- Measure development/validation