Disturbing Facts about Sexual Abuse

From research by economists J.J. Prescott and Jonah Rockoff, here are a few current statistics on sex offenses reported to the police:

1) 25 percent of victims are 10-14 years old; 23 percent are nine or younger.

2) 22.5 percent of the offenders are family members. Only 8 percent are strangers.

3) 25 percent of sex offenses reported to the police lead to an arrest.

And these are only the offenses reported to the police. Stranger sex offenses must be much more likely to be reported to the police than family abuse.

Using this data, I estimate that six out of every 1,000 10- to 14-year-old girls are victims of sex offenses which are reported to the police each year. The actual victimization rate is surely much higher.


Sam

I'm curious along with Chance @#7.

Perhaps someone with math skills better than mine can answer this. If we take the percent of children who have been sexually abused and factor it with the percent of sex abuse cases that have been reported and the mean number of victims each convicted sex offender abuses (according to NAMI it's 117, so probably median would be a better measure, right?) can we then get the number of Americans who are sexually abusing children? That strikes me as a number worth knowing.

EB

I think that where the numbers are throwing people is that this blog only looked at 2 age groups as a percentage of the whole. Out of 100% of reports, 23% are made by children 9 and younger, and 25% by children 10-14. The rest are over the age of 14. I haven't read the original article (which is linked) nor am I likely to. These are statistics with which I am far too familiar.

The estimates are off though. Not including the 19 yr old with a willing 17 yr old girlfriend as an instance of sexual abuse or rape, the estimates in the 80's were that 1 in 10 girls were raped or otherwise sexually abused by the time they turned 15. By the late 90's, that went to 3 in 10. (Sorry, after a decade or two I forget the exact sources, the information is there for those who care to look.) And yes, the majority of sexual offenses are not done by strangers but by family members and friends of the family.

Isn't it a good thing that the so-called "cycle of abuse" has been proven to be more myth than fact?

The question I don't see anyone asking here is this: What will be done to protect future generations of children?

IME, the best defense is education, early, honest, open, often, and continuing. Start talking about human bodies, touching, the right to say no, and yes, even sex, when a child is young (even at 3 it's not too early to learn proper names for body parts). Teach children to respect their bodies, not to be afraid of or ashamed of them, and we'll have less of this in the future.

The problem with that solution is that too many parents are still ashamed of or afraid of their own bodies to have the capacity to teach their children otherwise.

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at

I was emotionally and sexually abused by my mother (who was assaulted by her grandfather) when I was six. I grew up thinking that a lot of the problems in my parents lives were my fault. I unwittingly tried to destroy the problem - "me" - several times. I wasn't a "cutter" but I did similar things to my body. A little boy should not have to carry the burden for the 48 years I did (I am 54 now). When my father passed away a year ago, I started behaving abusively toward myself and a month ago sought help. I sought help because I had developed a brand new pattern of abusing myself that I had not experienced before. Seeing a psychologist brought out the 48 years of things I had repressed and over the past 4 weeks I have actually cried myself to sleep like a little boy twice. I have a hard time understanding what would lead a grown man like me to cry like this over something that happened 48 years ago. The process was like pulling away layer after layer of abuse and the resulting self abuse. I thought my self abuse was because I was some kind of degenerate but I am OK. Even though I was never shy, I was voted most shy in high school. I simply drew everything up inside myself and did not want or could not communicate and this was perceived as shy. I believe the loss of my father was a trigger point as I think I saw him as some kind of protector. My sexual identity has been explored by my counselors but I am completely male and have no homosexual desires. I am a sensitive married man and am very protective of my children and my grandchildren. The abusive cycle stopped with me and I am grateful for that. "EB" is right is stating that education is the best way to stop any cycle whether it is a myth or real. Little boys and little girls depend on us as adults to protect them and that is why I was a very involved parent and will always be a very involved grandpa. It is very healing for me to visualize the little boy that I was and to tell him that he is sweet, normal and OK.

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AF

I was told by my lawyer that statistically more gay men are child abusers than straight men.....carrying on the abuse perhaps??

candace

-Daina what happend to the infant and the 17 year old??? -candace

Meeka

I personally believe that majority of abuse cases are a state of confusion because perhaps they were victims themselves and percieve this to be normal behaviour as they have been programed to think this is a sign of affection..but in no way am I saying that this is the entire reason we have abusers...maybe majority was the wrong word...hmm.

Anyway I read earlier and agree that the media attention and over criminalizing of sexual exploration behaviours as abuse and the fact that society overly puritanical attitude toward sex may be the root of dysfunction. This points the focus on what is actually considered sexual abuse???

I believe inappropriate contact that you feel uncomfortable with this should be solely as considered abuse, and if there hasn't been consent to proceed to perhaps ..sexual intercourse then this is abuse and of course not JUST sex but any genital contact or touching of your ass, and if you feel that a person of authority or power is taking advantage of you then this is also abuse- basically anything without both parties consent should be taken seriously as abuse.

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JAZMINE

-You know what i think that its very sick to even think to try to abuse anyone any age or at anytime. I know people say its wrong, it might be wrong but if you want to get that across to other people then you have to put a little ummph in it. I mean for real do something about it. In my school we had a speaker and she was teaching us about sexual abuse and i learned so much about those sick men or women sexually abusing little kids. I heard that there was a man on you tube saying that he had aids and he was going to get as many people (teenage girls) as he could get and give them aids. He says he is doing this because the parents aren't teaching their kids not to get in the car with strangers. He said he was telling kids he was 19 and had a jaguar so watch your kids and have a safe and blessed life-

Dale

The majority of molestations are done by indivduals who have never been sexually abused. They will use the fact that they have been abused to take responsibility away from themselves. The statisics vary but the latest,are around tenty to thirty percent of abusers have been sexually abused themselves. I have been abused and have spent my entire life treating victims of abuse and working with predators. It has taken me a lifetime to work through the trauma, progress is made but it
still rears its ugly head from time to time. I have a good friend who will have a book coming out in the fall, please view his website www.abovehisshoulders.com he discloses his past, it is intense and courageous, it has helped me so much, I was allowed to read an unedited early version. Thanks keep looking for inner peace

cathy

I think it is just strange that you think that 22.5 is family and8 are strangers.

bubbles

wow im doing a project on this... PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THIS BECAUSE THEY NEVER KNOW WHO MAY BE NEXT!!!!!

Anon I Maus

Given the statistics, it seems if we castrated offenders, there won't be many "functional" men left in America. As someone who was molested countless times, I think education is important as well as permanent consequences beyond a registry. Castrate repeat offenders especially those who prey on children.

Samwise

So this is really different for me. my father did this to me and wasted 6 years of my life. i actually said something to my mom, we went through all the court and dealing with his family and everything, and nothing turned out like i thought. his entire side of the family basically disowned me, and i lost part of myself i think. then i was told he isn't allowed to have contact with me until I'm 18. now that i will be 18 in less than a month all i can think of is what happened, and i can't understand how i feel about it anymore. i want to talk to him and at the same time i want to flip out on him and hurt him.i know this isn't really going along with the topic of conversation but sort of. i just don't know what to do anymore, i can't talk to any of my family or friends because they all think the same thing and they never want to talk anyway. i feel so lost anymore, after years of letting the whole thing go, telling myself I'm over it and it doesn't bother me. i guess i just want my dad back, but at the same time i think to myself "why the hell would you want him back in your life?! all he did was hurt you" but, oh i don't know I'm rambling. is there anything anyone can tell me?!

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frankenduf

I've always been fascinated by the concept of repression of childhood abuse leading to adult behavior dysfunction- I wonder how much of homosexuality and sexual dysfunction is explained by a repressed sexual abuse

jroxz

Wait, when they're not family members or strangers

zadig

Boy, frankenduf, that seems really, really off topic. The first two questions I came up with when I read this post were:

1) If only 8 percent of reported offenses are committed by strangers, why are we, as a society, so terrified of letting our kids out of sight for even a minute? Nobody in my area lets their kids walk to school unattended anymore, for example. (And neither do I, to be honest.) Sounds as if we should all relax a bit, and watch out more for those odd relatives.

2) If 8 percent are committed by strangers, and 22.5 percent by family, that leaves 69.5% committed by friends and acquaintances. And *that's* just creepy.

Nope, wondering if the sexual abuse victims might turn out gay didn't even cross my mind. Seems irrelevant.

Mike

22% offenders family members
8 % offenders strangers

70 % offenders (the rest) are what? space aliens ????

Rob

-frankenduf

I think many homosexuals would your comment incredibly offensive.

Also, you are insinuating homosexuality is on par with "sexual dysfunction."

Toni

frankenduf--Homsexuality is inborn, not developed. I'm of the opinion that we are over-criminalizing a lot of sexual exploration behaviors as abuse. Not to say that abuse doesn't happen--I know it does. But sometimes the system spends so much time telling someone they are a victim until they start believing it. That and our society's overly puritanical attitude toward sex...that may be the root of dysfunction.

Chance

What disturbs me is that if these figures are correct, or even under reported (and I notice you didn't include boys in your estimate) then what are the chances that we either work with, are friends with, or are related to a child molestor? I don't want to be paranoid, but it's hard to trust anyone when you see these type statistics.

mathking

What I think of is the fact that many of us worry incredibly when our kids are out of our sight, but not so much when they are with people we trust.

I think that this really highlights the need to communicate with your kids. If you make sure to do this, you have a better chance that they will tell you when that friend or family member starts acting creepy. Hopefully before it becomes abuse.