Below are some staggering child abuse statistics and information gathered by Darkness to Light, a national non-profit organization whose mission is the primary prevention of child sexual abuse. Darkness to Light focuses its efforts on shifting the responsibility from children to adults by educating them to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.
- 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18.
- 1 in 5 children are solicited sexually while on the Internet.
- Nearly 70% of all reported sexual assaults (including assaults on adults) occur to children ages 17 and under.
- There are an estimated 39 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse in America today.
Who is at risk for sexual abuse?
- 30-40% of child victims are abused by a family member.
- Another 50% are abused by someone outside of the family whom they know and trust.
- Approximately 40% are abused by older or larger children whom they know.
- Only 10% of child victims are actually abused by strangers.
How old are these children?
- The median age for reported abuse is 9 years old.
- More than 20% of children are sexually abused before the age of 8.
- Nearly 50% of all victims of forcible sodomy, sexual assault with an object, and forcible fondling are children under 12.
Why don’t these children tell?
- Evidence that a child has been sexually abused is not always obvious and many children do not report that they have been abused.
- Over 30% of victims never disclose the experience to ANYONE.
- Young victims may not recognize their victimization as sexual abuse.
- Almost 80% initially deny abuse or are tentative in disclosing. Of those who do disclose, approximately 75% disclose ACCIDENTALLY.
- Of those who do disclose, more than 20% eventually recant even though the abuse occurred.
- Fabricated sexual abuse reports constitute only 1% to 4% of all reported cases. Of these reports, 75% are falsely reported by adults and 25% are reported by children. Children only fabricate .05% of the time.
How does child sexual abuse affect the community?
- Sexually abused children who keep it a secret or who “tell” and are not believed are at greater risk than the general population for psychological, emotional, social, and physical problems often lasting into adulthood.
- Victims of child sexual abuse report more symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, more sadness, and more school problems than non-victims.
- Victims of child sexual abuse are more likely to experience major depressive disorder as adults.
- Adolescent victims of violent crime have difficulty in the transition to adulthood, are more likely to suffer financial failure and physical injury, and are at risk to fail in other areas due to problem behaviors and outcomes of the victimization.
- 70-80% of sexual abuse survivors report excessive drug and alcohol use.
- Children who have been victims of sexual abuse exhibit long-term and more frequent behavioral problems, particularly inappropriate sexual behaviors.
- An estimated 60% of teen first pregnancies are preceded by experiences of molestation, rape, or attempted rape. The average age of their offenders is 27 years.
- Victims of child sexual abuse are more likely to be sexually promiscuous.
- Adolescents who suffer violent victimization are at risk for being victims or perpetrators of felony assault, domestic violence, and property offense as adults.
- Nearly 70% of child sex offenders have between 1 and 9 victims; at least 20% have 10 to 40 victims.
- An average serial child molester may have as many as 400 victims in his lifetime.
*All information was adapted from Darkness to Light. For more information go to www.darkness2light.org