About Child Abuse
The epidemic no one wants to talk about
240 children are sexually abused every day in this country. Nearly five children die every day as a result of abuse and neglect.
The numbers can be staggering.
One of every 4 girls and one of every 6 boys is sexually abused before their 18th birthday. (1)
An estimated 905,000 children were found to be the victims of some kind of child maltreatment in 2006. (2)
And yet, most experts believe that only a fraction of child abuse, particularly sexual abuse, is ever reported.
Most abused children know their abusers
Ninety percent of the time, a child is sexually abused by someone he knows, loves, and trusts, which includes parents, relatives, family friends, coaches, day care workers…
The vast majority of perpetrators of all types of abuse were parents (80%), including birth parents, adoptive parents and stepparents.1
Child abuse knows no barriers—not race, religion, income
Nearly half of all victims are white (49%), nearly one-quarter are black (23%) and nearly one-fifth (18%) are Hispanic. (2)
Abuse happens everywhere. It happens in your neighborhood.
The human consequences are long and often tragic
The problems that pile up as the result of child abuse are legion—from learning disabilities to mental illness to criminal behavior, drug abuse, and prostitution. Left untreated, the damage that childhood abuse inflicts on a person has a substantial impact on that person’s ability to go on and live a life of purpose and responsibility. Happiness is often a foreign concept.
- A study of young adults who had been sexually abused as children found that as many as 80 percent of them suffered at least one psychiatric disorder by the age of 21—depression, anxiety, suicide attempts, bulimia and anorexia. (3)
- A number of studies indicate that a history of abuse increases the likelihood of problems during adolescent years, including serious and violent delinquency, the use of drugs, poor performance in school, early pregnancy. (4)
- In one domestic violence study, one-third of the alleged abusers were abused by their parents and about half of their parents were themselves involved in battering relationships. Results suggested that exposure to domestic violence during childhood, either as a victim or witness, is a strong predictor of domestic violence. (5)
- As many as two-thirds of all people in treatment for drug abuse report they were abused during childhood. (6)
- Children who are abused or neglected are 50% more likely to be arrested while a juvenile, 40% more likely to be arrested for a violent crime as an adult, and 33% more likely to abuse drugs. (7)
- Often, abuse leads to abuse. Violent child victimizers are substantially more likely than those who victimize adults to have been physically or sexually abused as children. (8) It is estimated that one-third of abused children will go on to be abusers.
- Child abuse has been shown to be among the major causes of child runaways. In a cruel irony, runaway children are often singled out by child pornographers, pedophiles and pimps, perpetuating their abuse.
And the financial costs of child abuse are enormous
A 2003 study by Prevent Child Abuse New York tallied the direct costs of child abuse and neglect in New York State alone to be nearly $1.1 billion. Adding in indirect costs—a fraction of the costs of special education, adult criminality, domestic violence and public assistance—brings the estimated total to be $2.45 billion.
Prevent Child Abuse America estimates the national annual costs of child abuse to be $94 billion.