How Often Does Child Sexual Abuse Get Reported

How Often Does Child Sexual Abuse Get Reported

How often does child sexual abuse get reported?
© Judy H. Wright,​ parent educator and PBS consultant

Body of​ article:

Not nearly as​ often as​ it​ should. Most child abuse victims never report the​ crime or​ get help in​ coming to​ grips with this life-changing trauma. They move into adulthood with a​ broken heart and low self esteem. Much misbehavior and acting out can be traced to​ an​ incident which occurred which left the​ child feeling confused,​ betrayed and angry.

In an​ attempt to​ cope with the​ confusing reality of​ what has happened to​ them,​ many children develop survival skills or​ behaviors that will help them to​ cover up what they are really feeling.

Families,​ friends and society sometimes see and judge the​ problem behavior when it​ is​ actually a​ symptom of​ the​ internal pain which has never been addressed.

The number of​ reports is​ rising each year due to​ mandatory reporting laws,​ better public education and greater public awareness of​ the​ problem. Over the​ last 30 years many key developments in​ law enforcement have made it​ easier to​ deal with victims and their families with greater understanding,​ making it​ easier for them to​ come forward and ask for help.

In the​ Commonwealth Fund Survey of​ the​ Health of​ Adolescent Girls,​ they found that of​ sexually abused children in​ grades five through twelve,​ 48% of​ the​ boys and 29% of​ the​ girls had told no one about the​ abuse—not even a​ friend or​ sibling. if​ indeed,​ sexual abuse happens to​ one in​ four children,​ yet only 1.8 cases are reported per 1,​000 children you have to​ wonder why.

The most common reasons given by victims for not reporting these crimes to​ authorities:

1. They feel no one will believe them,​ as​ the​ perpetrator has told them repeatedly.

2. They are so consumed with self-blame and shame that it​ happened to​ them.

3. a​ parent or​ another adult believes them,​ but doesn’t want to​ involve outside parties. They feel it​ is​ a​ private matter and they will just keep the​ child away from the​ individual who was hurting them,​ so as​ not to​ disturb the​ family unit or​ community.

4. the​ child or​ the​ family is​ afraid of​ reprisal from the​ assailant.

There is​ always hope and assistance for recovery:

Even if​ your child or​ you made a​ decision to​ not report it​ at​ the​ time abuse happened,​ please check out the​ resources in​ back of​ my book: Caution Without Fear-Safeguarding Your Children From Sex Abuse and Finding Help if​ it​ Has Occurred. I have included almost 100 resources for help.

There are so many different methods and techniques to​ help you heal and gain greater understanding of​ what has happened to​ you or​ your child. No one deserves to​ suffer from painful memories.

Healing is​ possible no matter how long ago the​ abuse took place. There is​ help,​ guidance and tools available to​ assist both victims and perpetrators overcome painful pasts and look forward to​ a​ future full of​ hope and promise.

Every state has a​ child-protection agency that is​ responsible for investigating sexual-abuse complaints. Any incident,​ or​ suspected incident,​ should be reported to​ this agency and to​ the​ police. Go with the​ child and then refrain from talking about the​ incident in​ front of​ people who really don’t need to​ know. When you report it​ to​ the​ police,​ ask for an​ officer trained in​ dealing with children and ask for a​ private place to​ discuss the​ situation. Children are usually a​ little bit more open with someone who does not remind them of​ the​ perpetrator. Stay with your child and support him/her as​ they answer questions.

What should a​ parent do:

Tell them again and again,​ that they are not at​ fault. Reiterate that it​ is​ the​ job of​ adults to​ protect children,​ not hurt them. Reassure them that you believe them and will support their efforts and those of​ the​ police in​ seeing this never happens to​ another child. Most offenders molest more than one child; especially in​ cases of​ incest.

Breaking the​ silence and reporting the​ perpetrator to​ the​ authorities or​ a​ trusted adult will protect other children. Be sure to​ tell your child it​ takes courage to​ speak out when things are wrong,​ and you are proud of​ them for stepping forward.


Resource box:
This article has been written by Judy H. Wright,​ a​ parent educator and PBS consultant. You will find a​ full listing of​ books,​ tele-classes,​ and workshops listed at​ You have permission to​ use the​ article providing full credit is​ given to​ author. She may be contacted
At 406-549-9813 or​

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