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Child Abuse and Neglect
Two-thirds of sex offenders in state prisons have victimized a child. (1)
Offenders typically prey on children they know - not strangers. (1)
Almost one-third of victims are the children or step children of the assailant. (1)
People with a history of childhood sexual abuse are four times more likely to develop depression than people without such a history. (2)
More than half of the violent crimes committed against children involved victims age 12 or younger. (3)
Approximately one-third of all sexual abuse cases involve children younger than 6 years of age. (4)
All but 3 percent of offenders who committed violent crimes against children are male. (3)
Offenders who had victimized a child are on average 5 years older than offenders who committed crimes against adults. (3)
70 Percent of those serving time for violent crimes against children are white, while 40 percent committed crimes against adults. (3)
Violent child-victimizers are more likely than those with adult victims to have been physically or sexually abused as a child. (3)
About 14 percent of child victimizers carried a weapon during the violent crime. (3)
About 10 percent of violent offenders with child victims received life or death sentences. The average prison term is 11 years; shorter average sentences than received by those with adult victims. (3)
Three in ten child victimizers report they had committed crimes against multiple victims. (3)
Three in four child victims of violence are female. (3)
The vast majority of child victimizers in State prisons say they knew the victim before the crime. (3)
One-third committed the crime against their own child. (3)
Half had a relationship with the victim as a friend, acquaintance, or another relative. (3)
One in seven reported the victim to have been a stranger. (3)
Three-fourths of violent victimization's of children take place in either the victim's home or the offender's home. (3)
Four in ten child victims suffer either a forcible rape or another injury. (3)
(1) Washington Crime News Services, Crime Control Digest. March 1996; Vol. 30, No. 10; 1.
(2) The Commonwealth Fund, Commission on Women's Health, Violence Against Women in the United States; A Comprehensive Background paper. November 1995; 35.
(3) Greenfeld, Lawrence A., Child Victimizers: Violent Offender and Their Victims. U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Executive Summary. March 1996; 1,2.
(4) APA Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family, Violence and the Family, Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association; 1996: 47, 52.
Information from
Psychological abuse of children can be defined in terms of eight types of behaviors exhibited by parents or caretakers.

1. Rejecting - The child is avoided or pushed away, and is made to feel unworthy and unacceptable.
2. Degrading/devaluing - The child is criticized, stigmatized, deprived of dignity, humiliated, and made to feel inferior.
3. Terrorizing - The child is verbally assaulted, frightened and threatened with physical or psychological harm.
4. Isolating - The child is deprived of social contacts beyond the family, not allowed friends, and kept in a limited area for long periods of time without social interaction.
5. Corrupting - The child is taught to behave in an antisocial manner, encouraged to develop socially unacceptable interests and appetites.
6. Exploiting - The child is taken advantage of, used to meet the needs of his or her caretakers.
7. Denying essential stimulation, emotional responsiveness, or availability - The child is deprived of loving, sensitive caregiving; his or her emotional and intellectual development is stifled; and the child is generally ignored.
8. Unreliable and inconsistent parenting - Contradictory and ambivalent demands are made of the child, parental support of caregiving is inconsistent and unreliable, and familial stability is denied the child.

(Garbarino, J., Guttman, E., & Seeley, J., The psychologically battered child: Strategies for identification,
assessment and intervention. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers; 1986.)

(Hart, S.N., Germain, R., & Brassard, M.R., To better understand and combat the psychological maltreatment of children and youth. 1987; In M.R. Brassard, R. Germain, & S.N. Hart (Eds.), Psychological maltreatment of children and youth. New York: Pergamon Press; 3-24.)
information taken from

Abused children show a variety of initial and long-term psychological, emotional, physical, and cognitive effects of abuse. These may include:
Low self-esteem
Acting-out behavior
Anxiety disorders
Overly complaint or overly rebellious behavior
Sleep disturbances
Regressive behavior
Irritability and anger
Suicidal feelings
Poor peer relations
Poor concentration
Drug or alcohol problems
Eating disorders
Exaggerated or irrational fears
Secretive behaviors
Lack of trust
Health problems
APA Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family, Violence and The Family, Washington, DC: American Psychological Association; 1996: 51,52.)

Characteristics of Abused and Neglected Children
Victim's of child abuse and neglect tend to be relatively young, the average age being just over 7 years. Neglect is most often reported among the youngest children (infancy and toddlerhood), with incidence declining as the child ages. In contrast, reports of sexual abuse and emotional maltreatment occur more frequently among older, school-aged children and adolescents. Physical abuse is more often spread more evenly among all age groups of children, though the highest rate of physical injury is found among older children (12-17 years of age). This latter finding appears to correspond with increasing parent-child conflict which is often characteristic of adolescent development. With the exception of sexual abuse (where females comprise 85% of the victims), boys and girls are reported at approximately the same rate for physical abuse and neglect. Studies analyzing the race of child victims indicate that the percentage of black and white children who are abuse victims is representative of the United States population at large.

(Source: Wolfe, D.A. Child Abuse: Implications for Child Development and Psychopathology. (1987) Sage Publications, Newbury Park.)

Characteristics of Abusive Parents
In 97% of reported cases of child abuse, parents are the perpetrators of the crime. A large percentage of these cases involve natural parents as the primary perpetrator, although other caregivers (such as stepparents, relatives, foster parents, and guardians) are more likely to perpetrate certain types of maltreatment, particularly including sexual abuse. Parents who perpetrate abuse of their children have often began families at a younger age than did nonabusive parents, many being teenagers at the birth of their first child. When all forms of abuse are considered, females are more often reported as abusive caretakers than males (60.8% female, 39.2% male), reflecting the predominance of female-headed households and child-rearing responsibilities. The sex of the perpetrator differs significantly by type of abuse, however, with males committing more major and minor physical abuse, and the vast majority of sexual abuse against children.

(Source: Wolfe, D.A. Child Abuse: Implications for Child Development and Psychopathology. (1987) Sage Publications, Newbury Park.)