Facts about Child Sexual Abuse

Child sexual abuse makes everyone uncomfortable and we try not to think about it or talk about it if we don’t have to. I completely understand why someone might feel that way. It’s difficult to consider.

Find out the grooming techniques abusers use and which traits they search for in potential victims. You’ll learn statistics on percentage of children abused and how the family makeup can increase or decrease the chance a child is abuse.

As hard as it is to think about, I also realize it’s vital this information’s in front of as many eyeballs as possible. If you only read one thing I’ve written, please read this. Children need to be protected, we all should know this critical information which if used wisely can help a child out of a terrible situation

Harris county texas
21% of paroled sex offenders live in Harris, Tx

Harris County, Texas

According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, 21% of all paroled sex offenders in Texas reside in Harris County..

No child is immune

Children of every gender, age, race, ethnicity, background, socioeconomic status and family structure are at risk. No child is immune.

There’s nothing rare about it

1 in every 3 girls and 1 in every 4 guys are abused by the age of 18.

Usually Male Abusers

Most child sexual abusers are men, and may be respected members of the community drawn to settings where they gain easy access to children like schools, clubs and churches. They come from all age groups, races, religions and socioeconomic classes.

Child's eyes man hand on mouth

Children are the most victimized

Most people think of adult rape as a crime of great proportion and significance. Most are unaware that children are victimized at a much higher rate than adults.

  • Nearly 70% of all reported sexual assaults (including assaults on adults) occur to children ages 17 and under (Snyder, 2000).
  • Youths have higher rates of sexual assault victimization than adults. In 2000, the sexual assault victimization rate for youths 12 to 17 was 2.3 times higher than for adults (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2000).


Approximately 35% of women and 20% of men in the US were victims of sexual abuse as children.

There will be

500,000 babies born in the US this year that will be sexually abused before they turn 18

It’s a family affair

85% of child abuse takes place with a family member or friend in the home

Girl if you tell anyone on mouth

Afraid to Speak up

Child Sexual abuse is reported up to 80,000 times a year, but the number of unreported instances is far greater, because the children are afraid to tell, and the legal procedure for validating the episode is difficult.

Breaking trust

Nearly all of the children will be abused by someone they know and trust: a family member, family friend, or a caretaker. 

Specific characteristics in the children

Family and acquaintance child sexual abuse perpetrators have reported that they look for specific characteristics in the children they choose to abuse.

  • Perpetrators report that they look for passive, quiet, troubled, lonely children from single parent or broken homes (Budin & Johnson 1989).
  • Perpetrators frequently seek out children who are particularly trusting (Conte et al., 1987) and work proactively to establish a trusting relationship before abusing them (Budin & Johnson, 1989; Conte, Wolfe, & Smith, 1989; Elliott et al., 1995; Warner-Kearney, 1987). Not infrequently, this extends to establishing a trusting relationship with the victim’s family as well (Elliott et al., 1995).
Boy stop on hand

Family Characteristics

There are child and family characteristics that significantly heighten or lower risk of sexual abuse. The following risk factors are based on reported and identified cases of abuse.

  • Family structure is the most important risk factor in child sexual abuse. Children who live with two married biological parents are at low risk for abuse. The risk increases when children live with step-parents or a single parent. Children living without either parent (foster children) are 10 times more likely to be sexually abused than children that live with both biological parents. Children who live with a single parent that has a live-in partner are at the highest risk: they are 20 times more likely to be victims of child sexual abuse than children living with both biological parents (Sedlack, et. al., 2010).
  • Gender is also a major factor in sexual abuse. Females are 5 times more likely to be abused than males (Sedlack, et. al., 2010). The age of the male being abused also plays a part. 8% of victims age 12-17 are male. 26% of victims under the age of 12 are male (Snyder, 2000).
  • Age is a significant factor in sexual abuse. While there is risk for children of all ages, children are most vulnerable to abuse between the ages of 7 and 13 (Finkelhor, 1994). The median age for reported abuse is 9 years old (Putnam, 2003). However, more than 20% of children are sexually abused before the age of 8 (Snyder, 2000).
  • Race and ethnicity are an important factor in identified sexual abuse. African American children have almost twice the risk of sexual abuse than white children. Children of Hispanic ethnicity have a slightly greater risk than non-Hispanic white children (Sedlack, et. al., 2010).
  • The risk for sexual abuse is tripled for children whose parent(s) are not in the labor force (Sedlack, et. al., 2010).
  • Children in low socioeconomic status households are 3 times as likely to be identified as a victim of child abuse (Sedlack, et. al., 2010).
  • Most studies have reported that children with disabilities are at greater risk for sexual abuse. The latest research identified incidents of child sexual abuse involving children with disabilities at only half the rate of their non-disabled peers.
  • Children who live in rural areas are almost 2 times more likely to be identified as victims of child sexual abuse (Sedlack, et. al., 2010).
  • Children who witness or are the victim of other crimes are significantly more likely to be sexually abused (Finkelhor, 2010).

Perpetrators “groom” victims and their families.

  • Many establish a trusting relationship with the victim’s family (Elliott et al., 1995), in order to gain access to the child (Berliner & Conte, 1990; Conte et al., 1989).
  • Perpetrators employ successively inappropriate comments and increasingly inappropriate touches and behaviors so insidious that the abuse is often well under way before the child recognizes the situation as sexual or inappropriate (Berliner & Conte, 1990; Conte et al., 1989).
  • Strategies employed to gain the compliance of victims include the addition and withdrawal of inducements (attention, material goods, and privileges), misrepresentation of society’s morals and standards and/or the abusive acts themselves, and externalization of responsibility for the abuse onto the victim (Berliner & Conte, 1990; Conte et al., 1989).
  • 35% of convicted child molesters use threats of violence to keep children from disclosing the abuse. General threats and physical force are also used to prevent detection (Ohio Department of Corrections, 1992).

Child sexual abuse often takes place under specific, often surprising circumstances.

  • 81% of child sexual abuse incidents for all ages occur in one-perpetrator/one-child circumstances. 6-11 year old children are most likely (23%) to be abused in multi-victim circumstances (Snyder, 2000).
  • Most sexual abuse of children occurs in a residence, typically that of the victim or perpetrator. 84% of sexual victimization of children under age 12 occurs in a residence. Even older children are most likely to be assaulted in a residence. 71% of sexual assaults on children age 12-17 occur in a residence (Snyder, 2000).
  • Sexual assaults on children are most likely to occur at 8 a.m., noon and 3-4 p.m. For older children, ages 12-17, there is also a peak in assaults in the late evening hours (Snyder, 2000).
  • 1 in 7 incidents of sexual assault perpetrated by juveniles occur on school days in the after-school hours between 3 and 7 p.m., with a peak from 3 – 4 pm (Snyder, 2000).
Boy crying hand over eyes

Behavioral signs of Abuse

Behavioral signs a child is being abused include of appetite, withdrawal from normal activities, substance abuse, self mutilation, fear of certain places or people, bed wetting, night sweats, nightmares and thoughts of suicide.

Also be aware of sexual acting out and language that is not age-appropriate.

Child sexual abuse plays an important role in the cost of mental health services.

  • The direct cost of mental health is more than $97 billion annually in 2010 dollars (Mark, et. al., 1998). Indirect costs add another $110 billion or more annually in 2010 dollars (Rice & Miller, 1996). If child sexual abuse victims have a doubled risk for mental health conditions (Rohde, et. al., 2008; Dube,et. al., 2005; Waldrop, et. al., 2007; Day, et. al., 2003; Kendler, et. al., 2000; Voeltanz, et. al., 1999), logic suggests that child sexual abuse is responsible for annual mental health costs of at least $20 billion.

Teen pregnancy is a long-term, expensive societal problem. Child sexual abuse is a major factor in teenage pregnancy rates.

  • The U.S. government estimates that teen pregnancy costs the nation over $9 billion annually (National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 2004). If the applicable research (Noll, Shenk, & Putnam, 2009) is accurate, logic suggests that over $2 billion of this is attributable to child sexual abuse.

Over-sexualized behavior, common for child sexual abuse victims, can lead to an increased risk of sexually-transmitted diseases.

Sexually-transmitted diseases cost this nation $8.4 billion annually (Kaiser Family Foundation, 1997). If the research is accurate (Zierler, et. al., 1991: Allers, et. al., 1993; Dekker, et. al., 1990), logic tells us that over $1.5 billion of this is attributable to child sexual abuse.

Not only Intercourse

Incest is not confined to sexual intercourse. Incest can include nudity, disrobing, genital exposure, kissing, fondling, digital penetration, and sodomy.

Girl red tape over mouth hands over eyes

Secrecy is key

The primary reason that the public is not sufficiently aware of child sexual abuse as a problem is that 73% of child victims do not tell anyone about the abuse for at least a year. 45% of victims do not tell anyone for at least 5 years. Some never disclose


Children who have been Sexually Abused feel many different and often overwhelming emotions including:


– of the abuser
– of causing trouble
– of losing adults important to them
– of being taken away from home
– of being different


– at the abuser
– at adults around them who didn’t help them
– at themselves (feeling as if they caused it)


– because “something is wrong with me”
– because they feel alone in their experience
– because they have trouble talking


– about having something taken from them
– about losing a part of them
– about growing up too fast
– about being betrayed


– about being involved in the experience
– about their body’s response to the abuse


– for not being able to stop the abuse
– for believing they “consented” to the abuse
– for telling (if they told)
– for keeping the secret (if they didn’t tell)


– because they may still love their abuser