How often does sexual abuse occur?
Sexual victimization is unfortunately fairly common in the United States. About one in every five girls and one in every seven boys are sexually abused by the time they reach adulthood i. One in six adult women and one in every 33 adult men experience an attempted or completed sexual assault in their lifetime.
How common are sexually-based Internet crimes?
It is estimated that one in seven youth (between the ages of 10 and 17) will receive an unwanted sexual solicitation over the Internet. 4% of youths have experienced an “aggressive” solicitation, where someone attempted to contact the child offline. Experts agree that the best way to protect children from online solicitations and exposure to pornography is to supervise their online activity, or at a minimum to ensure that parental controls, such as “filtering” or “blocking” software, is installed on any computer used by children.
Can females be sex offenders?
Yes. While the majority of sex offenses are committed by males, females account for approximately 10% of sex crimes reported to police iv. But in studies in which individuals have been asked confidentially about whether they have ever been sexually victimized, the rates of sex crimes committed by females is often reported to be higher than these arrest rates v. Some believe that sex crimes committed by females are less likely to be reported for a number of reasons, including fear that no one will believe a female could commit a sex crime.
Is there a “profile” of what sex offenders look like or the types of crimes they commit?
No, there is no profile of a “typical” sex offender iii. Sex offenders can be male or female, adult or juvenile , young or old. They also vary in terms of their level of education, marital status, and family ties. They may offend against adults or children, males or females, or both. They may have a long criminal history or none at all. Their crimes can range from non-contact offenses (e.g., exhibitionism or “flashing”) to contact offenses (e.g., fondling, rape). The reasons why they commit these offenses, the kind of help they need to try to stop offending, and the risks they pose are different in every case.
Can sex offenders be “cured”?
No. Sex offending isn’t like an “illness” that will simply go away with a certain type of medication or treatment. This doesn’t mean that sex offenders cannot control their behavior. Specialized treatment can help sex offenders to develop important skills that can help them manage their behavior over time, which can reduce their chances of sexually abusing in the future. But whether someone will be successful depends on the person, and whether or not they are motivated to change their behaviors.
What can I do to help protect my child from sexual abuse?
Here are some things that you and your family can do to prevent the sexual abuse of a child:
•Set and respect family boundaries.
•Speak up when you see behaviors that violate a child's personal boundaries or make children vulnerable.
•Watch for signs of sexually inappropriate behavior in adults, between adults and children, and in children.
•In your own life, demonstrate to your children that it is okay to say "no" when someone you know and care about does something you do not like.
•Practice talking about difficult topics such as sexual abuse with other adults before talking to your kids.
•Be sure that you are comfortable saying the proper names of body parts before you teach them to your children.
•Teach children the difference between okay touch and touch that is not okay. As they get older, teach the more subtle differences between green light (appropriate touch), red light (inappropriate touch), and yellow light (questionable touch) behaviors.
•Teach children that secrets about touching are not okay.
•Set up a family safety plan that is easy to remember.
•Know who to call for advice, information, and help in the event of a concern for your children.
Report anything you know or suspect is sexual abuse to your local law enforcement agency.
Who should I contact if I suspect or become aware of an instance of child sexual abuse?
If you suspect that a child you know is being sexually abused, contact your local child protective services agency or law enforcement agency. For what to do if a child reports to you that they have been sexually abused, visit sexually abused, contact your local child protective services agency or law enforcement agency.