A medical evaluation will prove if a child has been sexually abused.
False: The vast majority of child victims of sexual abuse do not have medical findings that substantiate sexual abuse. Abnormal genital findings are rare, even in cases where abuse has been factually proven by other forms of evidence. Many acts leave no physical trace. Injuries resulting from sexual abuse tend to heal quickly, and in most instances, exams of child victims do not take place on the same day as the alleged act of abuse due to delayed disclosures.
Children make these types of things up for attention.
False: Children very rarely make false accusations about being sexually abused. Most victims are very reluctant to disclose abuse; they feel shame, and blame themselves for the abuse often as the offender is someone they care about. It is estimated that only 4-8% of child sexual abuse reports are fabricated.
When children disclose abuse, it is important for them to know that they are believed. It is also important that alleged abuse be brought to the attention of healthcare, social service, and/or law enforcement professionals.
Only girls are abused.
False: Boys may be victims of abuse. 1 in 10 children will suffer some form of sexual abuse before their 18th birthday.
Often the sexual abuse of male victims is underreported due to social and cultural attitudes: boys are taught to not let others see vulnerability. Boys are aware at an early age of the social stigma attached to sexual assault and fear appearing weak to others. All of these attitudes make male child victims far less likely to tell of their abuse.
Children will tell someone if they have been abused.
False: Children are often afraid or ashamed to tell someone about their abuse. Many children are threatened not to tell. 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused by the age of 18. Only 10% of those children will ever disclose the abuse as a child because 90% of abusers are someone the child knows, loves and trusts.
Child sexual abuse is a cultural
or socioeconomic problem.
False: Child sexual abuse does not discriminate and crosses all socioeconomic, ethnic and religious barriers. The issue does not discriminate and occurs in large and small families; in cities and in rural areas; in wealthy and lower income neighborhoods; and in homes, schools, churches, and businesses.
Sexual victimization as a child will result in that child becoming an offender.
False: Childhood sexual victimization does not automatically result in a child becoming an offender. This myth often creates a terrible stigma for a child who has been sexually abused.
Most children that were sexually victimized never perpetrate against others. Multiple factors contribute to the development of sexually offensive behaviors. Research shows that if a child discloses an incident of sexual abuse and is believed and supported, they have a much higher likelihood of not becoming perpetrators as adults.
All sexual offenders are men.
False: There is no foolproof way to tell if a person would abuse a child. People of all incomes, education levels and professions have been convicted of child sexual and physical abuse. A common assumption is that a person who looks normal and acts normal simply cannot be an offender.
Male perpetrators tend to be the majority of reported cases of abuse but women are also capable of being perpetrators. Reports of female perpetrators are on the rise. Research shows that women are perpetrators in 10-20% of child abuse cases and have been reported in cases involving both male and female children.
Talking to children about sexual abuse will simply frighten them.
False: It is important for children to develop basic safety skills in a way that is helpful rather than frightening. Children should learn the proper names for their body parts, including their genitals. Children should know they have permission to refuse unwanted touching from adults and other children.