Child Sexual Abuse Statistics

No parent wants to imagine their child is at risk of sexual abuse. Unfortunately, this is a shockingly prevalent crime in the U.S. that affects tens of thousands of children each year. Staying up-to-date on the latest child sexual abuse statistics can better enable you to protect your child from this heinous crime.

How Common Is Child Sexual Abuse?

Different sources give different estimates of the prevalence of child sexual abuse in the U.S. Statistics vary based on issues such as wide underreporting and different definitions of child sexual abuse. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) states that about 1 in 9 girls and 1 in 53 boys under the age of 18 in the U.S. suffer from sexual abuse. The Crimes Against Children Research Center, however, places the prevalence higher, at 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys.

According to RAINN, Child Protective Services throughout the country find evidence of child sexual abuse every nine minutes. In a single year, child services found strong evidence to indicate that around 57,330 children were victims of sexual abuse. Child sexual abuse is more common than adult sexual abuse. According to an organization called Darkness to Light, nearly 70 percent of all reported cases of sexual assault in the U.S. involve children 17 years old and younger.

Who Is Most at Risk of Child Sexual Abuse?

Statistically, older children are more likely to experience sexual assault and abuse than infants. According to RAINN, about two in three (66 percent) victims of child sexual abuse are between the ages of 12 and 17. The remaining 34 percent are under age 12.

Female children are more at risk than males; 82 percent of all sexual abuse victims under the age of 18 are female. The person who is most likely to experience sexual assault is a female who is 16 to 19. This demographic is four times more likely than the general population to experience sexual assault or rape.

Who Are the Most Common Perpetrators?

Criminals who sexually abuse and molest children tend to look and act like everyone else, with nothing out of the ordinary that would make a parent worry. In many cases, perpetrators are close friends or family members that the child knows well. Research shows that 3 in 4 adolescents are sexually assaulted by someone they know, with some statistics increasing these odds to 93 percent.

You may be able to identify a child abuse perpetrator or pedophile by how he or she treats your child or the relationship the adult tries to have with your child. Child abuse perpetrators often groom their victims, or manipulate the situation over time to gain unsupervised access to the child and earn a position of trust. Common grooming behaviors include giving the child special gifts or attention, filling a need for the family, isolating the child from others, and slowly becoming more physical with the child.

What Are the Signs of Child Sexual Abuse?

Understanding the common signs of child sexual abuse could allow you to act quickly to alert the authorities and protect the child as a parent, guardian or teacher. Although each case is unique, many victims of child sexual abuse and assault exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Sudden withdrawal, outbursts or behavioral changes
  • Nightmares or regression, such as bedwetting
  • Bruising of the upper thighs or genital injuries
  • Inappropriate knowledge of sexual subjects for the child’s age
  • Sexually transmitted diseases

These signs can change according to the child’s age. If you suspect child sexual abuse, have a conversation with the child. Explain that he or she is not in trouble and can tell you what happened. Then, get professional help. Call the police if you believe a child is in immediate danger and report any abuse to Child Protective Services. Take the child to a hospital for a physical examination. Finally, contact a Los Angeles child sexual abuse attorney for legal counsel. A lawyer can help you and your family go up against a perpetrator and/or institution in pursuit of justice.