April is Child Abuse Awareness Month…
It is estimated that one million violent crimes involving child victims are reported to the police annually and Child Protection Services substantiates an additional 1.1 million cases of child abuse per year. Yet over ninety percent of crimes perpetrated against children go unreported.
Children of all social classes are more frequently victims of crime than adults. This is true in both rural and urban areas.
The United States Dept of Justice says one in twenty men have molested a child. 1
Seven out of ten sexual assault victims are under eighteen years old. This means that mostly children and teens are being raped and assaulted. 2
Ninety percent of child sexual abuse is committed by someone known, loved, and trusted by the victim. 3
Ninety-five percent of teenage prostitutes have been sexually abused. 4
Sixty percent of all convicted sex offenders are on parole or probation. 5
The Los Angeles County Interagency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect says that a parent, or other parental caretaker, kills their child almost once a week in L.A. County alone. The children are usually three to six years-old and suffer “repeated abuse at the hands of their eventual killers.” 6
Forty to sixty percent of men who abuse women, abuse children as well. 7
Fewer than five percent of children ever tell anyone that an adult is sexually assaulting them. 8
In California, 250 to 300 sex offenders are released from prison each month. There were over 94,000 registered sex offenders living in the state of California in 2002. Two thirds of them were convicted of sexually molesting a child. 9
Abusive fathers are more likely to fight for custody.
Abusive fathers win custody in seventy percent of contested custody cases.
Fathers accused of incest win custody in eighty-four percent of cases nationally.
Ninety-one percent of fathers accused of incest by their children obtain full or partial unsupervised custody in California. 10
Eight percent of all custody cases involve sexual abuse allegations. Of those, two percent are false.
Fifty-four percent of mothers who attempt to protect their children from incest receive only visitation or no contact at all. 11
Photographs of incest are uncommon. Medical records are more likely non-existent because most abusers do not take the child they are raping and molesting to a doctor to treat the abuse, neither do the women who know incest is taking place in the home, but who choose to protect the abuser.
According to former FBI Agent Ken Lanning, children often don’t have any visible signs of abuse. When a child has been sexually assaulted, doctors often cannot find any identifying physical marks or injuries. Even if the child was physically wounded, they can heal rapidly. 12
In a study on 704 children suspected to have been sexually abused, and who were seen at a hospital from January 1992 to April 2000, it was found that seventy-four percent of the genital and anal exams were normal in seventy-nine percent of the children. Girls made up seventy-five percent of the alleged victims and ninety-two percent of the suspected perpetrators were male. 13
In a study spanning five years, 2,384 children who had been assessed for possible sexual abuse, had a normal medical exam in 96.3% of the cases. The children had been referred for evaluation because they told someone they were being sexually abused, displayed behavior indicative of abuse, had been in an abusive environment, or because of a physical condition that pointed to abuse. Of the children who reported that abuse had taken place, 95.6% of the exams were normal. Out of those who had been referred for behavioral issues, 99.8% had normal exams, and ninety-two percent had benign exams if they were referred for a medical reason. The vast majority of the children in the study reported being penetrated rectally or vaginally.
The small remaining percentage had sexually transmitted diseases, or obvious damage had been done to their genitals. Others had varying medical conditions that strongly signified sexual abuse. The researchers concluded that abnormal medical exams in children, who are suspected of having been sexually abused, only occurs about four percent of the time. 14 The results of this study show that signs of sexual abuse in a child are hard to detect when physical evidence is depended upon as the primary indicator.
Experts feel there are close to sixty million survivors of child sexual abuse in the United States alone. 15 Evidence shows this number is grossly underestimated.
1. U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs Office for Victims of Crime, Washington, D.C., June 1999
2. Close to Home, Mark McGwire Foundation for Children and Big Year Productions, Vanessa Roth and Alexandra Dixon Producers, Discovery Health Channel, 2002
3. U.S. Dept of Justice, Close to Home, Mark McGwire Foundation for Children and Big Year Productions, Vanessa Roth and Alexandra Dixon Producers, Discovery Health Channel, 2002
4. CCPCA, 1992
5. United States Dept. of Justice, Close to Home, Mark McGwire Foundation for Children and Big Year Productions, Vanessa Roth and Alexandra Dixon Producers, Discovery Health Channel, 2002
6. Rise in Deaths of Children by Parents, Los Angeles Times, 4/28/00
7. American Psychological Association, Violence and the Family: Report of the American
8. Treat the Abuser, Reduce the Risk?, Linda Marsa, Los Angeles Times, May 13 2002 S-1]
9. Treat the Abuser, Reduce the Risk?, Linda Marsa, Los Angeles Times, May 13 2002 S-1
10. Center for Policy Research and National Center for Protective Parents
11. California Protective Parents Association
12. Child Molesters: A Behavioral Analysis for Law-Enforcement Officers Investigating the Sexual Exploitation of Children by Acquaintance Molesters, Fourth Edition September 2001, Kenneth V. Lanning, Former Supervisory Special Agent Federal Bureau of Investigation, Copyright 2001 National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, page 118
13. Sexual abuse: Experience in a child sexual abuse unit, Comas Masmitja L, Petitbo Rafat M, Ibanez Fanes M, Bassets Marill J, Ruiz Espana A, Pou Fernandez J An Esp Pediatr 2001 Mar; 54(3):243-250
14. Children referred for possible sexual abuse: Medical findings in 2384 children. Heger A, Ticson L, Velasquez O, Bernier R Child Abuse Negl 2002 Jun; 26(6-7):645-59
15. Close to Home, Mark McGwire Foundation for Children and Big Year Productions, Vanessa Roth and Alexandra Dixon Producers, Discovery Health Channel, 2002