First Things First

Protecting Children from Sexual Abuse

What percentage of children who are victims of sexual abuse know their abuser?  Where might you find a person who sexually abuses children?  What percentage of child sexual abuse victims tell someone about the abuse?  What percentage of child sexual abuse reports by children are fabricated?

This is certainly not a topic most people want to spend any time thinking about. However, for the sake of children across this country, it’s a subject that requires attention. About one in 10 children will be sexually abused before turning 18.

You might be surprised to learn that about 90 percent of child sexual abuse victims know their abuser.

In case you have been led to believe that child sexual abusers look like shady characters, think again. According to Darkness to Light, a website devoted to ending child sexual abuse, those who molest children usually look and (mostly) act just like everyone else. People who sexually abuse children can be found in families, schools, churches, recreation centers, youth sports leagues and any other place children gather.

And it is important to realize that abusers can be and often are other children, although most adolescent sex offenders are not sexual predators and will not go on to become adult offenders.

Researchers estimate that 38 percent of child victims disclose the fact that they have been sexually abused. Of these, 40 percent tell a close friend, which means that the vast majority of child sexual abuse incidents are never reported to authorities, though research suggests that such disclosure rates may be increasing. And it is estimated that only 4 to 8 percent of child sexual abuse reports are fabricated.

Who is most at risk?

Who are perpetrators looking for?
Perpetrators report that they look for passive, quiet, troubled, lonely children from single parent or broken homes. They frequently seek out children who are particularly trusting, working proactively to establish a relationship with them before abusing them. They might seek to establish a trusting relationship with the victim’s family as well.

What can you do?

As concerned community citizens, everyone can take action against child sexual abuse.

Darknesstolight.org has a downloadable booklet for families and communities that outline steps parents and others can take to protect children from sexual abuse.

For more information:

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