The long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse could last a lifetime. As noted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a sexually abused child may develop physical and mental health issues that carry over to adulthood. The emotional problems could include post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic depression.
The CDC also notes that the degree of abuse endured by children is hard to determine accurately because some kids may never report their experiences. Others may feel a need to wait until they grow older before they can discuss what they endured.
Does the CDC have a general idea of how often child abuse occurs?
The research compiled from studies and noted by the CDC points to an estimate of one out of every four girls experiencing sexual abuse as a child. The CDC noted an estimate for boys that came close to 8%, but some studies show a higher number, such as one reported by the Children’s Advocacy Center Foundation; that estimate noted sexual abuse affected as many as one in every six boys.
The research shows an unnerving dynamic. Over 90% of the child abusers were either known or trusted by the children or trusted by family members. Revealing that sexual abuse occurred requires a great deal of courage, especially if the perpetrator is either a family member or an individual trusted and respected by the family.
What may parents do when children reveal abuse occurred?
After preventing the perpetrator’s access to the child, parents may consider reporting the abuse to the authorities or taking legal action. In some cases, the individual could belong to an organization or a school that shares responsibility for the abuse. Regardless of the abuser’s position within the family or community, parents have a right to seek justice when their child suffers harm.