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Child Molestation and Sexual Abuse Statistics

Most law-abiding people agree that child molestation and sexual abuse are some of the most terrible crimes imaginable. While no parent wants to discover that someone has been molesting their child, it’s vital for all parents to recognize the dangers of sexual abuse, and know what to do when confronting it. Child abuse can leave deep psychological and physical scars on victims that last a lifetime, and the healing process is different for everyone. One thing that can help provide peace of mind to victims of child molestation is the service provided by the attorneys who hold child abusers accountable for the harm they cause. If you suspect your child has been sexually abused in an institutional setting, contact the child molestation lawyers at Estey & Bomberger, LLP today.

The National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (NAASCA) is a nonprofit organization that exists to provide protection, guidance, support, and treatment for the victims of child sexual abuse. They help victims of child abuse connect with valuable resources and legal services. The NAASCA also collates research to keep the public informed about sexual abuse trends in the United States. Below are some of their findings, and you can see a complete fact sheet with citations on the NAASCA website.

Child Sexual Abuse Statistics

According to clinical psychological studies, one in three girls and one in six boys will suffer some form of sexual abuse before the age of 18. However, it’s important to note that due to various social stigmas, many researchers believe the sexual abuse of young boys is underreported. Social pressures encourage boys to be strong, and foster the idea that being a victim of sexual abuse diminishes masculinity. These unfortunate influences discourage many boys from seeking help for sexual abuse for fear of ridicule.

It’s also important to note that the exact rates of child molestation and sexual abuse are unknown due to low reporting rates. According to the NAASCA’s statistics, fewer than 12% of sexual abuse incidents are reported to the police. The NAASCA research shows various other factors concerning sexual abuse trends in the U.S.:

  • Most child abuse situations are not isolated incidents, but rather long-term relationships between the victim and the offender. Sometimes, abuse can continue for years before anyone identifies the abuse and puts an end to it.
  • The vast majority – 93%, in fact – of juvenile sexual assault victims know their abuser. 34.2% of abusers are family members, 58.7% are acquaintances, and only 7% are strangers.
  • In the past year, one in five children received some sort of sexual approach from a stranger over the internet.
  • Researchers estimate that police only receive reports of 1 to 10% of all child molestation cases. Many factors influence this widespread trend of underreporting, such as intimidation, social stigmas, and other societal pressures.
  • Children who suffer sexual abuse are more likely to form dangerous sexual habits as adults, leaving them more susceptible to harmful situations and at higher risk for contracting HIV.
  • Victims of childhood sexual abuse often develop long-term emotional disorders such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, suicidal tendencies, and substance abuse problems. Experiencing sexual abuse as a child distorts the psychological development of victims, causing them to form misguided interpretations of the world and relationships.
  • Children with disabilities are 4 to 10 times more likely to suffer molestation during childhood than non-disabled children.

Long-Term Consequences

Most Americans consider child molestation one of the most heinous crimes imaginable. Child molestation opens the door for all manner of serious issues later in life that can include mental illness, poor socialization, substance abuse, and even fatal diseases. It’s vital for victims to speak up about their experiences and strive to hold their abusers accountable. Children are often incapable of understanding these situations, so it’s up to parents to stay vigilant and notice any strange behavioral changes in their children.

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