Sexual Abuse

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is any sexual activity that occurs between a child and an adult or older child. Any sexual activity that occurs between an adult and a child is considered unlawful in all fifty states. A child, by law, is not old enough to give consent to sexual behaviors, and therefore any sexual activity they are forced to take part in is sexual abuse.

Sexual abuse is a grossly underreported crime in our nation. It is estimated that about 88 percent of all sexual abuse cases are not reported. Because such a large number of cases go unreported, our knowledge and understanding of sexual abuse is incomplete, at best. What we do know about sexual abuse comes from reported cases and the brave testimony of sexual abuse survivors.

Child Sexual Abuse

At least 500,000 cases of child sexual abuse are reported in the United States each year. It is estimated that twenty percent of young girls and five to ten percent of young boys will be the victims of sexual abuse in their childhood. Half of all cases of sexual abuse are perpetrated by a child who is under the age of eighteen.

Many people may believe that child sexual abuse is perpetrated by mentally ill, pedophiliac strangers, when this is one of the more rare scenarios for sexual abuse. True pedophiles, those with a primary sexual attraction to children, perpetrate an estimated two to twelve percent of all sexual abuse offences.

Usually the Child Knows the Abuser

Experts believe that sexual abuse is perpetrated by someone the child knows between 70 and 90 percent of the time. For parents and other caretakers, this means that a child could be sexually abused by someone they know and trust.

A sexual abuse offender may be related to the child or have easy access to the child like a coach, teacher, babysitter, neighbor, religious leader, or neighbor. Most states have a compulsory screening process for professionals who work with children, including background checks, personal interviews, and fingerprinting requirements.

Sexual Abuse Education from Adults

Adults can teach children about safety, educate themselves about sexual abuse, and take steps to reduce their child’s risk.

Some behavioral warning signs of sexual abuse in a child can include, but are not limited to: sleeping problems, extreme fear of “monsters”, spacing out at odd times, appetite, eating, or stomach problems, mood swings, unexplained fear of certain people or places, an older child regressing to past behaviors (i.e. thumb sucking), new words for private parts, talking about an older friend, having money, self mutilation, and more.

Unexplained physical injuries or pain may also be a sign of sexual abuse.

Contact Help

It is crucial that adults trust their instincts and speak out on behalf of a child who may be the victim of sexual abuse. Sexual abusers will typically not stop their behavior on their own. If you are a victim of sexual abuse, you should recognize that it is not your fault and you are not alone.

There are numerous hotlines, support groups, legal organizations, therapists, professionals, and other survivors who are dedicated to helping you. If you would like to learn more about the legal issues surrounding sexual abuse, please contact us to speak with a competent and caring attorney in your area who can provide support and legal expertise.

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