Facts & Statistics
- In the United States, approximately 1 out of every 4 girls and 1 out of every 6 boys is sexually abused.a
- 70-73% of child sexual abusers report experiencing sexual abuse in their own childhood.e
- Approximately 60% of sexual abusers are known to the child but are not family members, such as family friends, babysitters, or neighbors.c
- It is estimated that less than half of all sexual assaults on children are reported to the police.g
- The World Health Organization reports that 150 million girls and 73 million boys under 18 experienced forced sexual intercourse and other forms of sexual violence globally in 2002.p
- According to WHO, 1.8 million children are involved in pornography and prostitution. Over 1.2 million children have been trafficked.p
- Girls are more likely to disclose sexual abuse than boys.o
- The generally lower rate for male sex abuse may be largely inaccurate due to underreporting. Because men are traditionally encouraged to be physically strong and competitive, male victims may be more hesitant to report sexual abuse because they feel they are “less of a man.”h
- Child sex abuse includes body contact, such as kissing and oral, anal, or vaginal sex. Sex abuse can also include “flashing” or showing private parts, forcing children to watch pornography, voyeurism (trying to look at a child’s naked body), pressuring children for sex, having sex in front of children, and exploiting children for pornography or prostitution.q
- Researchers note that some disabled children may not be able to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate touching of their body, which leaves them particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse.e
- Child abusers often do not use physical force but instead “groom” or use manipulative tactics, such as buying gifts, arranging special activities, exposing children to pornography, and roughhousing to keep a child engaged with and often confused about the abuser’s motives.g
- Researchers report that the vast majority of sexually abused children do not grow up to be offenders and that the “cycle of sexual abuse” does not fully explain why a person would molest children.g
- Only a fraction of abusers are caught and convicted for their crimes. Most of those who are caught are eventually released back to the community, albeit under probation or parole supervision.e
- Children who are victims of sexual abuse can suffer many serious health effects, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, somatization, neurosis, chronic pain, sexualized behavior, learning problems, animal cruelty, self-destructive behavior, suicide, antisocial behavior, sleeping difficulties and/or nightmares, angry outbursts, not wanting to be left alone, and further victimization into adulthood. However, not all victims show behavioral changes.c
- Sexual abuse, or any kind of abuse, negatively and permanently affects the physical development of a child’s brain. These physical changes result in psychological and emotional problems in adulthood.q
- Children may not reveal sexual abuse because they feel shame or guilt, they worry no one will believe them, they fear being removed from their home, and they or their family may have been threatened. Very young children may not have the language skills to report the abuse or may not understand they are being abused.g
- According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, 63,527 children were sexually abused in the U.S. in 2010, a drop from 150,000 in 1992. While some researchers were surprised that the recession did not cause more cases of sexual abuse, others note that the drop may reflect methodological changes of counting reports as well as lower levels of abuse.g See Fact # 5!
- Child pornography is one of the fastest growing Internet businesses, increasing at an average 150% per year for each of the last 10 years. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) reports that it has reviewed more than 51 million child pornography images and videos.o
- Of the arrests for the possession of child pornography during 2000-2001 in the U.S., 83% had pornographic materials of children between ages 6 and 12, 39% had material involving children between ages 3 and 5, and 19% had material of toddlers under the age of 3 or infants.g
- Approximately 1.3 million children in America are sexually assaulted each year. There are an estimated 60 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse in America.e 5 children die each day from abuse.
- Researchers estimate that 20 million Americans have been victims of parental incest as children.e
- Researchers stress that it is crucial to respond in a supportive manner if a child discloses abuse. Children who disclose abuse and receive a negative reaction or no reaction at all suffer more from general trauma symptoms, dissociation, and PTSD than those who had supportive responses.e
- Between 250,000-500,000 child molesters reside in the U.S. today.n
- Male offenders who abused girls have an average of 52 victims each. Men who molested boys had an average of 150 victims each.e
- Child molesters come from all backgrounds and social classes. However, most molesters (1) are male, (2) work in an environment surrounded by children, (3) befriend the parents first and then gain the child’s trust, and (4) attend events such as sports, camping, and video arcades.e
- U.S. researchers have found that women who were sexually abused as girls repeatedly have a 62% percent higher risk of heart problems later in life compared with other women who were not abused. Much of the risk was related to coping strategies, such as alcohol abuse, overeating, and drug abuse.c
- The Catholic pedophile scandal in the U.S. broke in 2002 when it was reported that many leaders of the archdiocese had moved priests who had abused minors to new parishes rather than reporting them or defrocking them. The scandal has involved almost every US Catholic diocese, including 4,400 priests and 110,000 children who were abused between 1950 and 2002.g
- The FBI estimates that there is a sex offender living in every square mile in the United States.n
The re-arrest rate for convicted child molesters is 52%.g
- Classic signs of sexual abuse include odd injuries, ripped clothes or underwear, depression, alcohol and drug abuse, hyper-sexuality, withdrawal, exceptional fear of a person or certain places, unreasonable fear of a physical exam, drawings that are scary or that use a lot of black and red, and attempts to get other children to perform sexual acts.q
- If a child reveals that he or she has been sexually abused, it is crucial that adults listen non-judgmentally to the child and report it immediately. If the abuse is within the family, report it to the local Child Protection Agency. If the abuse is outside the family, report it to the police or district attorney’s office. Parents should also consult a pediatrician and a child/adolescent psychiatrist. It is important the child understands that the abuse is not his or her fault. A child should never be blamed for the abuse.q
- Parents can help prevent sexual abuse by educating themselves and their children about what sexual abuse is and by staying alert to the classic signs of sexual abuse. Parents also need to teach their children about the privacy of body parts, listen to their children, and be aware of where and with whom their children are spending their time.q — Posted March 7, 2012
a “Child Abuse and Neglect Statistics.” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. 2011. Accessed: December 28, 2011.
b “Child Molester Undergoes Castration for Parole.” MSNBC. March 4, 2011. Accessed: December 28, 2011.
c “Child Sexual Abuse.” MedlinePlus. 2011. Accessed: December 28, 2011.
d “Child Sexual Abuse Fact Sheet.” NCTSN. Accessed: December 28, 2011.
e Doak, Melissa J. 2011. Child Abuse and Domestic Violence. New York, NY: Gale Cengage Learning.
g Floric, MaryLee and Matthew Broyles. 2012. Sexual Abuse. New York, NY: The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc.
h “Global Prevalence of Child Sexual Abuse.” Journalist’s Resource. November 15, 2011. Accessed: December 28, 2011.
k “Megan’s Law: Facts about Sex Offenders.” Office of the Attorney General. 2001. Accessed: December 28, 2011.
l “New U.S. Data Shows Continuing Drop in Child Abuse.” USA Today. December 13, 2011. Accessed: December 30, 2011.
n “Protect Children from Sexual Predators in Your Area.” National Alert Registry. 2011. Accessed: December 28, 2011.
o Smith, Lamar. Statement of Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith Full Committee Markup of H.R. 1981, “Protecting Children from Internet Pornography.” Committee on the Judiciary. July 27, 2011. Accessed: December 30, 2011.
p Usborne, David. “UN Report Uncovers Global Child Abuse.” The Independent. October 12, 2006. Accessed: December 28, 2011.
q Vieth, Victor I, Bette L. Bottoms, and Alison Perona. 2006. Ending Child Abuse: New Efforts in Prevention, Investigation, and Training. New York, NY: The Haworth Maltreatment & Trauma Press.