Important things you should know about child abuse

1. More than 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 20 boys are sexually abused or assaulted before they turn 18, according to an analysis of national surveys in the U.S. While child sexual exploitation can be a difficult topic to discuss, education and awareness can help to prevent and combat further harm.

2. One study revealed that 1 in 3 children won’t disclose sexual abuse until adulthood (if they choose to disclose it at all). Among those least likely to disclose abuse are younger children, male victims, and those who have never before disclosed abuse.

3. According to one longitudinal study, 85.8% of child sexual abuse survivors developed mental health issues, 44% experienced suicide ideation, 14.2% had attempted suicide, 19.1% experienced alcohol dependence, and 22% experienced illicit substance addiction.

4. While most estimates of child sexual abuse focus primarily on contact abuse, online forms of child sexual exploitation are becoming increasingly common and have increased during the pandemic. Through the use of technology, abusers can exploit children without ever coming into physical contact with them.

Related: This Child Abuse Expert Says Many Abusers Have Escalating Violent Porn Habits

5. Technology is increasingly being used to groom young people for sexual abuse. According to research on victims who were trafficked in 2015, over half (55%) met their traffickers through the use of technology (i.e. online enticement, texting, app usage).6 

6. Another increasingly common form of child sexual exploitation is image-based abuse (sometimes called “revenge porn”) and/or child sexual exploitation material (sometimes called “child porn” or “CSEM”). With this in mind, it’s important to remember that:

  • Any explicit content of a minor is legally considered “child pornography,” even if a child takes an image or video of themself.
  • 1 in 3 underage teens say they have seen nonconsensually shared nudes of other minors.

If you have experienced or are experiencing sexual abuse, please know that you are not alone and that healing is absolutely possible. You can find healing resources and social support here .