Sexual abuse of children is very common. According to a number of studies, between 17 and 25 percent of women report that they were sexually abused before the age of 18, and 10 and 15 percent of men were sexually abused before the age of 18. In a national study of adults aged 18 to 59, about 12 percent of the men and about 17% of the women reported that they had been sexually touched as children. [xxiii]
The prevalence of childhood sexual abuse is remarkably high, and the facts often run counter to the assumptions that many people have. Both boys and girls are sexually abused, but abuses against girls predominate. Experience with childhood sexual abuse does not vary by ethnicity, race, social status, or education background of the parents. [xxiv]
Many people believe that children are sexually abused by strangers or known sex offenders. The reality is that strangers account for a small proportion of the abuse.
The public image of the sex offender is a strange middle-aged man lurking at a playground eyeing potential victims. The actual profile of the offender is someone well known to the child, someone who may be a teenager, and for boys, more likely to be female than another male. The percentage of adolescents that inappropriately touch children is rarely addressed in congregational policies or screening.
For more information contact safecongregations @ uua.org.
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Last updated on Friday, April 22, 2011.
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