Sexual abuse is a terrible crime that victimizes thousands of children in the U.S. According to Missouri Kids First, about 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused before they turn 18. Doctors, coaches, teachers, friends of the family and even family members can all be guilty of sexually abusing a minor. While no child is immune to the possibility of sexual abuse, statistics show that some children are more at risk than others.
Girls and Young Women
Research into the prevalence of child sexual abuse finds that it is more common for perpetrators to sexually abuse female children than male. According to Darkness to Light (D2L), approximately 1 in 7 girls will be sexually abused by the time they turn 18, compared to 1 in 25 boys. However, research shows that men who did not conform to gender norms in their childhood are at a 20 percent higher risk of being sexually abused and assaulted than their peers.
Children who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community are statistically more likely to suffer sexual abuse. A report by D2L states that gay, lesbian and bisexual children and young adults are almost four times more likely to experience child sexual abuse than heterosexual youth. About one in four, or 25 percent, of transgender youth are sexually abused before they turn 18. This puts them at a higher risk than cisgender girls and boys. In addition, 18 percent of LGBTQ+ teens reported being forced to have sexual intercourse.
Children With Disabilities
Children with mental or physical disabilities are at an increased risk of sexual abuse. They are three to eight times more likely to be sexually abused than their peers without disabilities, according to D2L. This is because these children are vulnerable and often dependent on care from others.
Children with disabilities may be physically unable to defend themselves from sexual abuse, as well as mentally or verbally incapable of speaking up. This puts them at a heightened risk of being targeted by sexual predators, which may include nursing aides, assistants, physical therapists, teachers, older children and their own family members.
Children who are in the foster care system are at an increased risk of sexual abuse. One John Hopkins University study found that children in foster families are four times more likely to be sexually abused than their peers, and children in group homes are 28 times more likely. Sadly, foster care is a broken system where children in need often fall through the cracks. A county may not properly vet an individual who has applied to be a foster parent, for example, or may not conduct an adequate number of child welfare checks. Without a proper support system, victims of foster care sexual abuse often suffer in silence.
Just as a lack of support can increase a foster child’s risk of sexual abuse, isolation can increase this risk for all children. When children are in situations that isolate them from their parents, peers and authorities who may be able to help, they are at a heightened risk of being abused. Examples include children in boarding schools, military schools, sleepaway camps, sports programs and doctor’s offices. Any situation where the child is left alone with an adult could put him or her at risk of grooming or sexual abuse.
Get Help as a Child Sexual Abuse Survivor
Just because a child is at a higher risk of being sexually abused does not mean that sexual abuse is guaranteed. If you or your child has suffered sexual abuse or assault in Missouri, however, DRZ Law can help. Our child sexual abuse attorneys have years of experience in this practice area and can help you navigate the legal process. We can keep your identity confidential throughout your case, if desired. Contact us today for a free case consultation.