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Depending on the source, estimates of child sexual abuse in the United States range from 1-in-4 to 1-in-8 girls and 1-in-6 to 1-in-25 boys; with some estimates as high as 40% of all children. It’s impossible to get an accurate accounting of how many children (girls and boys) are sexually abused. Abuse victims, as children and later as adults, are reluctant to talk about their abuse due to fear, shame, guilt, doubt, memory loss, and/or a feeling it was their fault.
The estimates I hear most often and most consistently are 1-in-4 woman and 1-in-6 men were sexually abused as children. I’ve heard these estimates for the last 30 years. So, these are the estimates I’ll use in this blog.
In the United States, there are over 330 million people: 78% of them are adults and 22% of them are children. That means the U.S. is home to 257.4 million adults and 72.6 million children. At an abuse rate of 20%, there are 51.5 million adults who were sexually abused as children and 14.5 million children will be sexually abused before they reach their 18th birthday; which equates to about 800,000 children being sexually abused per year.
As such, we have 66 million people in this country suffering from the adverse effects of child sexual abuse. The adverse effects include physical symptoms and psychological symptoms (the highlighted symptoms are the ones I’ve suffered from). The physical symptoms include:
The psychological symptoms include:
A recently released report, which is based on CDC findings, indicates that the lifetime financial burden (e.g., health care costs and being unable to work) as a result of being sexually abused as a child is about $210K. In comparison, the same report indicates that the lifetime financial burden of having a stroke is about $160K and the lifetime financial burden of having type 2 diabetes ranges from $180K to $250K.
With 66 million child sexual abuse victims, the collective lifetime financial burden is about $14 Trillion. That’s an unfathomable amount of money spent on issues that could be avoided if child sexual abuse were to end.
In addition, research estimates that about 75% of child sex offenders were themselves abused as children. While this is a high percentage of abusers, it represents a small percentage of victims. As such, only a small percentage of child abuse survivors will, as adults, become child sexual abusers.
Here are the numbers. On average, a child sex offender abuses 8.5 children; ranging from a few children to over 40 children. With 14.5 million children being abused, that calculates out to approximately 1.7 million active child sex offenders in the US; that’s one child sex offender per 200 people.
With 75% of abusers being victims themselves, that means that about 1.3 million of the 1.7 million abusers where themselves abused. Thus, only about 2.4% of victims of child abuse become child sex offenders as adults.
For child sexual abuse to end, abusers have to stop abusing. For the abusers that were themselves victims of child sexual abuse, many of them will be able to stop abusing, or never start, if they heal their wounds from when they were abused.
If, as a society, we promote healing from child sexual abuse and, each year for 10 years, the number of child sex offenders is reduced by a compounding 1.1%, then, in the first year, we’d have 18,700 less abusers and 209,000 less victims. In ten years, we’d have 275,000 less abusers and 2.4 million less victims.
In monetary terms, in 10 years, we’d save 2.4 million children from sexual abuse and save $500 billion in lifetime financial burden expenses.
The above discussion is just for child sexual abuse. There are other forms of child abuse, which include physical abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, neglect, poverty, or other traumatic event are included. Such forms of child abuse are generally referred to as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE).
The adverse effects of an ACE are similar to the adverse effects of being a victim of child sexual abuse. Some studies indicate that the severity of the adverse effects are related to the nature and quantity of Adverse Childhood Experiences a person endures. But it seems clear that every ACE has an adverse effect on the victim.
With respect to ACE, the CDC cites a study that estimates 62% of adults experienced at least one Adverse Childhood Experience. That’s 3 times the number of survivors of child sexual abuse. Thus, all of the above numbers are tripled, which means that:
It’s time that “Stop Abusing Kids” becomes part of the mainstream discussion and a key focal point of society. With 62% of our country having experienced some form of childhood abuse, it’s everyone’s problem.
I am the CEO and Founder of Athalonz, LLC., I am a founding partner of the patent boutique law firm of Garlick & Markison, I am a survivor of child abuse, and I am an inventor on over 300 patents.
Athalonz is a technology company based on Mesa, AZ. It develops and sells athletic footwear, which incorporates its patented technology that leverages the laws of physics to improve athletic performance. Website: athalonz.com
Garlick & Markison is a patent law boutique firm that assists clients in building a patent business within their business using proprietary tools and techniques. Website: texaspatents.com
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Today was a good bit of climbing. A little over 2,000 feet of elevation gain. Not as much as day 1 or day 2, but not trivial. I am really enjoying traveling through the small towns. The people have been friendly, the service has been good, and the food has been excellent.