Continuing decline in child sexual abuse

By Anne Collier

In a talk we ConnectSafely folk give, we have a slide with the question, “Has the growth in young people’s use of the Internet correlated with a rise in sexual abuse against children?” We follow that with an emphatic “no” and a chart from the Crimes Against Children Research Center (CACRC) at the University of New Hampshire that actually shows a 51% decline in child sexual victimization in the US from the birth of the Web to 2006 (we hope this eases parents’ fears amid a lot of misinformation about “predators” and focuses attention on what the research actually shows about youth online risk). Now we have an update from the CACRC, which shows the trend continuing. The Center has just reported that the latest figures from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System’s latest data (2008’s) “add to an already substantial positive long-term trend.” The 2008 data show a 6% decline in “substantiated cases of child sexual abuse” over the previous year, adding up to a 58% decline between 1992 and 2008. [Here’s the CACRC’s Web page on the longer-term picture.]

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