Child sexual abuse is forced, tricked, or coerced sexual behavior between a young person and an older person. Sexual abuse may consist of any one of the following acts: nudity, disrobing, genial exposer, observation of the child, kissing, fondling, masturbation, oral genital , child pornography, and vaginal or anal intercourse.
There is no rule governing the age range between a victim and a perpetrator. However, when the perpetrator is under 18 years of age, often age discrepancy of five years has been required to verify cases of sexual abuse where there was no force involved.
While many estimates have been made, the national incidence rate of sexual abuse remains unknown. The estimate that one in four girls and one in ten boys are abused prior to age 18 became widely known simply from being repeated. A 1996 national incidence study conducted by the federal government found that girls are sexually abused three times more often than boys.
National data from child protective services agencies, collected in 1994, suggest that about 115,000 cases of sexual abuse enter child protective services caseloads annually. Researchers estimate that approximately 109,230 new cases were accepted for service last year. And according to data from 25 states, sexual abuse reports constituted about 10% of all child abuse and neglect reports for 1995 and about 11% of all substantiated cases. While these numbers have decreased over the past year, the number is far higher that the number of cases in the 1970's and early 1980's.
The best research regarding the scope of child abuse in day care settings was conducted by David Finkelhor in (1986). He and his colleagues attempted to identify all cases of child abuse in day care centers reported nationwide between January 1983 and December 1985. The study estimated that approximately 500-550 incidents of sexual abuse occurred in day care settings during the three year period and that case involved 2,500 victims. Finkelhor estimates that the risk to children of being sexually abused in a day care center is 5.5 children per 10,000 enrolled versus 8.9 per 10,0000 enrolled under six reported as being sexually abused in their own homes. Overall, out-of-home abuse constitutes less than 5% of all sexual abuse cases reported to CPS (Child Protective Services) agencies.
Children are sexually abused by someone that they know, it could be a friend, relative or even their own parents. Surveys conducted have indicated that 10-30% of offenders were strangers. In abuse cases involving females one third to one-half were related to them. Only one-tenth were related to males. The most common perpetrators are ones who are acquaintances. This to me is the most terrible thought of all. To have someone you know violate a child in that manner. These are the things that can ruin a child for life. Their lack of trust to adults and the ones who they trusted, can they ever trust again. Does this lead the victum to be the one who in later life does the abusing? I believe in many cases it does, it leads to abuse of their children, as it once was them who were abused.
Child abuse reports continue to climb at a steady rate despite the absence of significant new funding to states for investigation or service provision. In 1997, the number of child abuse reports rose by 1.7%. One million new cases entered child protection services case loads alone last year.
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