What you should know about sexual abuse....
The only way to solve a problem is to talk about it, and sexual abuse of children is an enormous problem. This installment of the Revved Up Mom blog is devoted to educating readers about the statistics so you can speak about this issue from a place of knowledge. Our data is pulled from the CDC, US Department of Justice and some of the most highly regarded organizations in this field. Here is what you need to know:
Number of children sexually abused before age 18:
1 in 4 girls / 1 in 13 boys (sexual abuse is widely under-reported, especially among male victims, so it is likely that these numbers could be even higher)
Median age of a sexual abuse victim:
8 years old (the median means that there are just as many children older AND YOUNGER who are sexually abused). This statistic speaks to the need to be talking with children about sexual abuse when they are very young. Revved Up Kids can help with this! Read our blog post on this subject.
Sexual abuse victims who are abused by someone they know:
93% (stranger danger is the exception, not the rule…we need to stop talking about the man with the lost puppy, and start talking about Uncle George or Mr. Smith next door).
Number of adult survivors:
40+ million in the U.S. (contrast this with the number of survivors of cancer, fewer than 20 million, and the need for conversation about this issue is abundantly clear)
Number of sexual predators online in the U.S.:
(every minute of every day, this is how many are active online….everywhere your
children go, predators are there). Revved Up Kids offers Protected While
Connected online safety training for tweens and teens, and #SocialSavvy for
Parents training to address this and other online dangers.
Average age of a trafficking victim:
12-14 years old (these are middle schoolers who are being bought and sold for sex.)
Trafficking victims who were previously sexually abused:
60-85% (sexual abuse is a precursor, and this means that Revved Up Kids prevention training is incredibly important in protecting children from trafficking)
MYTH: Atlanta is a top city in the world for child sex trafficking.
In fact, Atlanta routinely tops lists about trafficking because Georgia is a leader in the country on this issue. When you are actively working to solve a problem, you have good data, and when you have data, you will appear on lists. It should be more worrisome to see the cities and states that aren't on the lists….they are turning a blind eye to this issue.
Terminology is important!
As the field of sexual trauma evolves, experts have learned the importance of labels. Gone are the days of referencing a child prostitute, a pimp, or a john. Children cannot consent to sex, and therefore they cannot be prostitutes….they are VICTIMS, and we need to acknowledge that when we are speaking of them. The terms pimp and john are old school and have been co-opted in pop culture. Nowhere should it be all right to pretend that individuals who buy and sell children have a place in pop culture. Let's call them what they are BUYERS and TRAFFICKERS (or SELLERS). Pornography also has been glorified in pop culture, and the term child pornography is being shelved in favor of a more descriptive phrase "child sexual abuse material"….let's start calling it what it is, and calling out anyone who thinks it's okay to look at sexual images of children.
Massive cost of sexual abuse:
The average cost to restore a single victim has been calculated at more than $200,000 (we do not believe victims can ever be fully restored…sexual abuse changes children at their core, it steals their bright futures). Revved Up Kids prevention training can be provided at an average cost of $25 per participant….an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure.
Health implications for victims and survivors:
Sexual abuse is at the core of myriad mental and physical health conditions experienced by victims and survivors. They face significantly higher rates of depression and anxiety, chronic physical conditions including heart and lung disease, teen promiscuity and pregnancy, addiction, dropping out of school, dysfunction in relationships, homelessness, joblessness and suicide. When asked, the addiction-recovery and therapy community will affirm that sexual abuse is the reason that most of their patients seek treatment.
Now that you're informed, what will you do to affect change? Will you support Revved Up Kids in its efforts to prevent sexual abuse? Will you speak about this issue with friends and colleagues? Will you ensure that the children in your personal circle are informed and equipped? Will you help us normalize this conversation with all children? Each of us plays a role, what are you called to do?