Fast Facts About Child Sexual Abuse

Fact 1: Children tend to know the person who abused them.

Most people who molest children know their victims and abuse from a position of trust or power. Abusers can include family members, trusted family friends, babysitters, coaches, teachers, ministers, and others who work with children. Stranger-on-stranger child molestation is extremely rare.

Fact 2: There is no “typical” child abuser.

There is no typical profile of someone who commits sexual abuse. People who sexually offend cross all socioeconomic, educational, gender, age, and cultural lines. Although most individuals who sexually abuse children are male, 5-10% are female. Adolescents account for approximately 35% of all sexual offenses against minors.

Fact 3: Children who have been sexually abused may display behavioral changes.

Children who have been sexually assaulted may act out sexually with other children and display unusual interest in genitals. Younger children may display anxiety, depression, anger, and bedwetting. Older children may display withdrawal, depression, and anger, and may engage in substance abuse and self-harm such as cutting.

Fact 4: Children can recover, with the right help.

Children and teens who have been sexually abused need to receive acknowledgment and treatment immediately and for as long as they need it. It is not true that all children who have been sexually abused will go on to abuse others, but without treatment, there is a higher likelihood this may happen, as well as a higher likelihood that the child will suffer long-term depression and other negative consequences.


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The following citations reflect research, publications, and presentations by current ATSA members.

2018 ATSA Conference