Child Sexual Abuse
Every year tens of thousands of children are subject to child abuse, which can take the form of physical or sexual abuse, neglect, abandonment, or mental injury. Many more continue to suffer because the abuse is never reported. Reporting abuse is simple and confidential. Even if you do not have all of the information about the child’s case, you can still report abuse. Your information could be critical to saving a child’s life.
- There are more than 42 million survivors of sexual abuse in America.
- 1 in 3 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18.
- 1 in 5 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18.
- 1 in 5 children are solicited sexually while on the Internet before the age of 18.
- 30% of sexual abuse is never reported.
- Nearly 70% of all reported sexual assaults (including assaults on adults) occur to children age 17 and under.
- 90% of child sexual abuse victims know the perpetrator in some way.
- Approximately 20% of the victims of sexual abuse are under age eight.
- 95% of sexual abuse is preventable through education and awareness.
- When a child’s sexual abuse started before the age of six and lasted for several years, the lasting emotional damage is worse. Among child and teen victims of sexual abuse there is a 42 percent increased chance of suicidal thoughts during adolescence.
- Only 3% of sexual abuse cases involving people with developmental disabilities are ever reported.
Talking About Abuse
Upon disclosure, what do you do? What do you say?
An adult’s reaction to disclosure plays an important role in the beginning of the healing process for the child.
- “I’m really glad that you told me.”
- “It took a lot of courage to tell me.”
- “It’s not your fault.”
- “We will work together to get you help.”
- “I will need to tell some other people who help to protect children.”
- “Together, we will get you help.”
What does the child need?
- Be careful not to make promises that you cannot keep. Do not promise you will not tell anyone.
- Report immediately.
- Only speak to those who have to know confidentially.
- Gentle honesty–keep information age-appropriate and general.