Incidence of sexual abuse has greatly decreased. Substantiated sexual abuse cases dropped 44% between 1992 and 2006. This is a “real decline,” as opposed to changes in reporting or data collection (Finklehor & Jones, 2004; Sedlak, et al., 2010). This decline is likely due in part to growing awareness that everyone is responsible to report abuse, and to prevention programs.
In 2013, 60,956 U.S. children were found to be victims of sexual abuse. This represents 9% of confirmed child maltreatment cases that year (USDHHS, 2015). Note: This is most likely an undercount, since most child sexual abuse never comes to the attention of state agencies.
Traits of Victims
- Girls are most at risk. From 9-32% of women and 5-10% of men say they were victims of sexual abuse and/or assault during childhood (Sedlak, et al., 2010; Douglas & Finklehor, 2005).
- All ages are at risk, but teens appear to be at highest risk (Douglas & Finklehor, 2005).
- Minority children are more at risk than white children (Douglas & Finklehor, 2005; Sedlak, et al., 2010).
- All income levels are affected, but the poorest families may be most at risk (Sedlak, et al., 2010).
- Family dysfunction is a risk factor. Sex abuse is associated with family problems such as parental alcoholism, parental rejection, and marital conflict (Douglas & Finklehor, 2005).