National Violent Offender

Facts About Child Sexual Abuse

Please join the battle to defeat child sexual abuse. Tragically, statistics prove that our society is losing this battle, and children are in critical need of greater prevention and intervention efforts. The most recent National Incidence Study conducted for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services indicates a 149% increase in abuse since 1986. Physical abuse of children is almost twice as high as the 1986 level, and child sexual abuse has MORE THAN DOUBLED since 1986. Current estimates indicate that 1 out of 3 girls - and 1 out of 9 boys - are victimized by molestation or sexual assault.
The prevalence of sexual abuse within families is proven by the fact that 46% of raped children are the victims of family members (Langan & Harlow, "Child Rape Victims," 1994), and 76% of molested children know their attacker and are usually under their care or trust in some way (Hayes, "Child Sexual Abuse," 1990). Our society is failing to protect children from pedophiles (whose convenient victims are often their own family members). This failure is further evidenced by the horrifying fact that children - not adults - are the most common victims of rape. One publication cites that 61% of all rapes in America are committed against minors, and an astounding 29% of rapes are committed against victims under age 11 (source: NCVC - National Center for Victims of Crime and Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center).

Perhaps the most shocking fact is that fathers are the most common perpetrators of this crime - far more than babysitters, neighbors, coaches, or the "stranger at the bus stop" (source: NCVC, see above). Fathers most commonly rape their own daughters - not their sons or other people's children. However, boys are also raped, and mothers also molest. And so do brothers and grandfathers and coaches and babysitters. Remember, child molestation is usually committed by someone in a position of trust with the child. Therefore, to fight child sexual abuse, become informed and aware of the signs (as described below). And don't disregard the signs because a child is from a well-to-do family or is the child of an esteemed community member. Child sexual abuse occurs in all types of households - rich ones as well as poor ones. It is not isolated to distraught areas as people would like to believe. And pedophiles come from all walks of life; they are ditch diggers as well as doctors, executives, ministers and, yes, even policemen. A supporter of SCSA was raped by her town's police chief when she was 13 years old. So don't assume a person is not an abuser because of their high status or "protective" position.

The table below shows some of the indicators of sexual abuse. If you recognize these indicators from a child you know, then immediately report the suspicion to both law enforcement and child protective services. Here's the link for child protective agency phone numbers by state:
If a number is not listed for your state, then call the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453 (1-800-4-A-CHILD) for an appropriate referral. Also, check the government and public pages of your phone book for local agency phone numbers.

The following table of sexual abuse indicators has been reproduced from the National Exchange Club Foundation's website at

Compulsive masturbation


Suicide attempts

Bruises or bleeding in external genitalia

Bed-wetting, soiling

Running away

Early marriage

Complains of pain or itching in genitalia

Excessive curiosity about sex

Starting fires

Running away

Difficulty in sitting or walking

Altered sleep patterns

Excessive bathing


Torn, stained or bloody underclothing

Learning problems

    Being withdrawn and passive

   Substance abuse

Sexually transmitted diseases

Separation anxiety Girls pulling up skirts

Getting in trouble with legal system

Pregnancy, especially in early adolescence

Overly compulsive behavior Sexual inference in school artwork


Developing fears and phobias Teaching others how to masturbate    
Sexual acting out with peers Becoming aggressive toward peers    
Becoming nonverbal Succumbing to periods of deep depression    
Developing tension symptoms -- stomach aches, skin disorders Falling grades    
Becoming seductive Alcohol or drug abuse     

This table is useful but omits the most definite indicator: a child actually TELLS you that they are being harmed. ALWAYS take action and notify law enforcement and child protective services when a child informs you about abuse. If their brave cry for help is ignored, they may not ask for help again. The aftereffects and damage of child abuse are tremendous, and the child is likely to continue to suffer throughout their adult lives, and to possibly repeat the pattern of abuse.

You are now equipped with some of the facts about child sexual abuse. Please stay informed, and stay aware! You could save a child.



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