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The Epidemic of Childhood Sexual Abuse

Childhood Sexual Abuse

Our society doesn’t like to talk about topics it finds distasteful. Childhood sexual abuse is one of those topics. In general, we like to think that because we don’t openly discuss it that it only happens rarely. If it happened frequently it would be a greater topic of conversation, or so the false logic of our topic avoidant society tells us.

But the truth is that childhood sexual abuse happens at epidemic levels in our country. In fact, if as many children who are sexually assaulted fell ill with a disease like measles schools would close, businesses would shutter and people would quarantine themselves in their homes. But because childhood sexual abuse is not something our society chooses to acknowledge, we continue to live like it is an infrequent occurrence. This does a huge disservice to both victims of abuse and potential victims.

The Centers for Disease Control report that one in four girls are sexually assaulted before their 18th birthday. For boys, the statistic is one in six. Those numbers are huge. Childhelp reports that every year more than three million reports of childhood sexual abuse are made. Three million! Why are we not up in arms about those numbers?

The answer lies in both the fact that the subject is taboo and that our culture holds fast to the myth that sexual abuse is a crime committed by strangers. We think that child molesters are under employed, middle aged, scruffy looking men living in their mother’s basements, subsisting on Hot Pockets while they troll internet chat rooms or plan their next outing to the neighborhood playground.

In reality, our children are assaulted not by strangers but by people they know. RAINN (the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) reports that 93% of child sexual assaults are committed by someone the child knows. Thirty-two percent of our children are abused by a family member. Fifty-nine percent are assaulted by a non-related acquaintance or family friend such as a coach, teacher, neighbor or babysitter.

What is the price of our ignorance of these realities and statistics? The cost is paid by our children who have been assaulted because we refuse to acknowledge how many of them exist. By not doing so we have not provided sufficient quality mental health resources to help them heal from their abuse. Instead, we leave them and their families to muddle through on their own. In my next post, discussing the after effects of childhood abuse, you’ll see how horrible a decision that is.

The cost is also paid by our children because when we refuse to admit who assaults them then we do not protect them. We educate our sons and daughters about “stranger danger” but we don’t tell them how to respond when they feel unsafe with someone they know. Our ignorance leaves them vulnerable.

Only when we decide to acknowledge how many of our children are sexually abused and who abuses them will we be able to stop the epidemic of childhood abuse in the United States. Join me here on my blog as I openly discuss the issue in an effort to help current victims heal, and future victims to avoid their potential fate altogether.

The Epidemic of Childhood Sexual Abuse

Bobbi Parish


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APA Reference
Parish, B. (2015). The Epidemic of Childhood Sexual Abuse. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 27, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/sex-abuse/2015/01/the-epidemic-of-childhood-sexual-abuse/

 

Last updated: 25 Jan 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 25 Jan 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.