Child Sexual Abuse: Bullshit Stats or Hard Science?

We’ve all gotten use to hearing that abusers are mostly men. I’ve got friends who would be reluctant to leave their kids in the hands of any men but don’t mind random female babysitters. I think it’s uncalled for and I think you should screen your babysitters carefully regardless of their gender.

I started googling for stats and I ran across a quote from The Department of Veteran Affairs under the heading “Who Commits Sexual Abuse?”

Under the child sexual abuse laws, the abuser must be older than the victim in most cases. Some states require the abuser to be at least five years older.

Most often, sexual abusers know the child they abuse but are not family. About 60% of abusers fall into that group. For example, the abuser might be a friend of the family, babysitter, or neighbor. About 30% of those who sexually abuse children are family members of the child. This includes fathers, uncles, or cousins. The abuser is a stranger in only about 10% of child sexual abuse cases.

Abusers are men in most cases, whether the victim is a boy or a girl. Women are the abusers in about 14% of cases reported against boys and about 6% of cases reported against girls. Child pornographers and other abusers who are strangers may make contact with children using the Internet.

I’m all for safety. And I believe it is true that more men are committing this despicable act. What I want to know now is what percentage of men in general are abusers. And also, I want to know if this percentage justifies the fear that any man can be an abuser… the lopsided fear that does not think women can be abusers. As my girlfriend pointed out, when listing the relatives in the above example they mention “This includes fathers, uncles, or cousins” but no mothers, aunts or female roles.

I do not want to give women an additional negative stereotype. But when it comes to places such as child safety, that’s a place you’re going to want to use critical thinking correctly. What’s worse than an abused child? A dysfunctional society that thinks any member of their society could be an abuser.

Just saying.

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5 Responses to “Child Sexual Abuse: Bullshit Stats or Hard Science?”

  1. Seth's World says:

    Newsweek is quoted with stats of 1 in 10 and 1 in 5. Yikes. (http://www.newsweek.com/2010/04/07/mean-men.html)

  2. Ben says:

    I did a first-aid course about a year ago and the male instructor was very specific in telling us what to do if an incident involved a child. That was, don’t (unless there is nobody else around), especially if the child is a girl, even if that child is yours. Get a woman, if one is available, and have the woman follow your instructions.

    It’s a sad world where you can’t even give potentially life-saving first aid without worrying about whether you’ll be tarred with the pedophile brush.

  3. Seth's World says:

    That is a shame.

  4. lorie says:

    My sister worked in a daycare center for a few years. The female workers were required to help the kids get on sunscreen and such before they went out to play during summer camp. When she saw one of the male workers standing around with a line of kids waiting to be sunscreened, she asked him to give her a hand. His response? “I can’t. I’m not allowed to touch the children.”

    The saddest thing is that a lot of these kids don’t have male role models at home and then they go to daycare and the guys there aren’t allowed to touch them. At all. Not to help put on sunscreen, not to help put on shoes. Not at all.

    I understand the WHY of it all, but I’m still left feeling sad that this is what they call the best solution.

  5. Seth's World says:

    There’s no good reason why. That’s my claim. Sustaining the paranoia that every male is a potential abuser has a cost. It’s most direct cost is that men stop listening to the abuse concerns of real victims because we don’t even get to help. It’s my hope that the gender wars are nearly over and that someday in the future we can work on screening our caregivers for nurturing capability in a gender agnostic way. I want the best people for the job regardless of their reproductive organs.

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