There are lots of statistics circling the internet on child sexual abuse. The most commonly quoted stats are 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be molested by the time they are 18. Some average those to say 20% of all children. Sadly, we also know that 90% of victims do not report to law enforcement. Therefore, if only 10% of victims are reporting then we can do the math and prove that the 1:4 and 1:6 and 20% stats are way off. Reporting to an adult is important but it won’t be accounted for in stats and change won’t occur unless we can get victims to report to law enforcement but I will write about that another time.
Personally, I’m guessing a more accurate count is closer to 2 or 3 out of 4 when it comes to girls or women. Yes, I’m saying that I believe the actual number is no less than 50% of women will be molested in their lifetime. I say this from research and experience. At least 8 out of 10 times I tell my story or my daughter’s story (and I tell it daily), someone will confide in me that it happened either to them or someone they are close to.
Even if we just use the very low and inaccurate number of 20% will be abused, compare that number to the number of people who will get the flu each year. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 5-15% of the population gets the flu annually. That is far below the number of our kids being molested, yet influenza gets massive research, government funding, and media attention annually. Doctors have informational pamphlets posted everywhere about the flu but not about the signs of child sexual abuse.
What can you do about this? You can educate yourself and your children. You can be proactive in predicting and preventing child sexual abuse. Take a child sexual abuse prevention class. You can set clear boundaries and make everyone aware of them. You can speak up when someone crosses those boundaries. You can report suspicious behavior even if it feels uncomfortable to you. Ask your child’s school, coach, church, babysitter, what their child sexual abuse prevention policy and anti-harassment policies are and ask to see them in writing. You can ask what your legislator is doing for your children. You can vote accordingly.
In The Socially Skilled Child Molester, Carla van Dam says, “Child molesters also gravitate to those who are most likely to be too polite to fend them off, too shy and anxious to tell them to leave, too dependent to be assertive, and too impressed by rank, power, status, or money to do the right thing. Child molesters deliberately associate with adults who cannot address these issues. They seek out adults who worry about hurting people’s feelings. They charm adults who do not believe it could happen. The children in your care are counting on you to overcome these natural barriers.”
We can’t let our children pay the price for our uncomfortableness to address this issue, to educate ourselves, to speak up and take action.