Sexual assault and children

As well as April being designated as Child Abuse Prevention Month, it is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This week we’re going to take a look at both and the impact this type of exposure can have on children.

For many reasons, including the shame associated with disclosing sexual abuse, professionals believe it’s hard to estimate just how many children are abused sexually each year.

The National Survey of Children Exposed to Violence (NatSCEV) takes a deeper look at different types of victimization experiences including sexual contact or fondling by an adult the child knew, sexual contact or fondling by an adult stranger, sexual contact or fondling by another child or teenager, attempted or completed intercourse, exposure or “flashing,” sexual harassment, and consensual sexual conduct with an adult.

NatSCEV  found that 6.1 percent of more than 2,000 children surveyed had been sexually victimized in the past year and nearly 10 percent over their lifetimes.

Child protective services agencies have reported a decline in the number of child sexual abuses reported, but, as this bulletin from OJJDP discusses, there are varying professional opinions on why that is.

The impact of sexual assault on children can be seen in many ways in their adulthood. According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey:

• Approximately 80% of female victims experienced their first rape before the age of 25 and almost half experienced the first rape before age 18 (30% between 11-17 years old and 12% at or before the age of 10).

• About 35% of women who were raped as minors were also raped as adults compared to 14% of women without an early rape history.

• 28% of male victims of rape were first raped when they were 10 years old or younger.

Stick with us this week as we post discussions about other topics related to children’s exposure to violence such as child sex trafficking and mandated reporting of sexual abuse. We’ll also have two guest bloggers, one from a survivor of sexual abuse and another from a London blogger that encouraged survivors to talk about their experience on Twitter.


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