April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

April is Child Abuse Prevention month, an excellent opportunity to raise awareness for a silent epidemic that harms our children: child sexual abuse. In the face of this epidemic, I believe we have to confront the facts, speak with caregivers, and respond to behaviors of concern in our homes, schools, daycare, youth programs, and places of faith. Only then can we begin obliterating the culture of silence that allows child sexual abuse to thrive in our communities.

How prevalent is child sexual abuse in your community? Let’s look at the facts.

Just the Facts

Most parents are surprised to learn that one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before the age of 18. This means that in a high school graduating class of 300, approximately 62 students will have been sexually abused during their childhood. Even worse, 85% of those graduating teens will have been abused by someone known and trusted.

Child sexual abuse afflicts children and families from every socioeconomic, religious, cultural, and educational background. Children from birth to 18 are vulnerable.

The Offender

Contrary to popular belief, any type of person can sexually abuse a child. Approximately, 96 percent of abuse is committed by males and two to four percent by females. In the U.S., up to 50 percent of child sex abuse is committed by juveniles (children under the age of 18).

How Sexual Abuse Happens

Child sexual abuse includes touching and non-touching behaviors, and photographing children for pornographic uses. Children are typically groomed over time, through friendship and trust, to keep sexual abuse a secret. Children are rewarded with toys, special privileges and attention so they become “willing participants” in keeping secrets, or they are emotionally threatened into compliance. Child sexual abuse invades a child’s body and spirit creating deep shame, which can make it difficult, even impossible, for children to tell.

Adults are also groomed by the offender as part of a thoughtful plan toward gaining access. The offender counts on access to the child and our collusion through silence.

Good News

I know the facts are harsh, but there’s the good news: Child sexual abuse can be prevented. Come back tomorrow to start learning what you can do to raise children and build communities that are off limits to child sexual abusers. Meanwhile, Test Your Knowledge about child sexual abuse.

Published on: April 14, 2014
About the Author
Photo of Feather Berkower

Feather Berkower has been a leader in child sexual abuse prevention since 1985. Her highly regarded workshop, Parenting Safe Children, empowers adults to keep children safe from sexual abuse. Feather is also the co-author of Off Limits: A Parent's Guide to Keeping Kids Safe from Sexual Abuse.

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Recent Comments

We can never tell when and where danger will strike, who would that be and what would they look like. We could also never know how will they hurt us. So all we need to do is to be prepare because everyone could be their victim.