Posts Tagged ‘ sexual abuse ’

1 in 8 Children Abused Before 18th Birthday, Study Finds

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

Child Abuse GirlOne in eight American children have experienced a form of abuse, according to a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics. Researchers tracked child-abuse cases of more than 5.6 million children and categorized abuse to included beatings, neglect, sexual abuse, or emotional abuse. The study reveals that girls, racial minorities, and children under the age of one had higher percentages of abuse than their counterparts. More from HealthDay.com:

More than 12 percent of kids in the United States experience beatings, neglect or sexual or emotional abuse, according to a new study.

“One in 8 American children, at some point between birth and their 18th birthday, will be maltreated,” said study researcher Christopher Wildeman, associate professor of sociology at Yale University.

Although the percentage of confirmed cases of abuse and neglect is lower than 25 years ago, it’s higher than Wildeman had anticipated. “We compulsively checked our numbers when it came back as 12 percent,” he said.

The study, published online June 2 in JAMA Pediatrics, used information from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System Child File. The database contains only confirmed reports of maltreatment.

The researchers defined confirmed maltreatment as “any report that was substantiated or indicated, meaning sufficient evidence existed for [child protective services] to conclude that abuse or neglect had occurred.”

More girls were mistreated than boys (13 percent versus 12 percent), and certain minority groups were more prone to abuse than others, the researchers said.

More than 20 percent of black children are mistreated, they found. “For Native Americans, the risk is closer to 15 percent,” Wildeman said.

For Hispanic children, the percentage is about 13 percent and for whites, close to 11 percent. “Asians had the lowest, at about 3 to 4 percent,” he said.

Risk is highest early in life, with 2 percent of children having a confirmed report by their first birthday, and nearly 6 percent by their fifth birthday, the researchers said.

However, fewer children suffer abuse now compared to several decades ago, Wildeman said. “There have been big declines in child maltreatment in the U.S. in roughly the last 25 years,” he said, citing other research.

About 80 percent of the cases the team evaluated were neglect, not abuse, he said.

The researchers tracked cases for the years 2004 through 2011, which included about 5.6 million children. They then estimated the cumulative prevalence of confirmed maltreatment by age 18.

The new numbers don’t surprise Janet Currie, a professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University in New Jersey. “Child maltreatment is a huge and underappreciated public health problem,” said Currie, who was not involved in the study.

In her own recent research, she found that child maltreatment is the leading cause of death from injuries in children older than 1 year.

Because the new report only focuses on confirmed cases, she said it might underestimate the scope of the problem. “Cases may not be confirmed for various reasons, including lack of child welfare staff available to investigate a report,’” she said.

Anyone who suspects a child is mistreated should notify their local or state child protective services or police department, experts say. “Many suspected cases are not verified, but it is better to be safe than sorry about this,” she added.

Telltale signs of abuse include unexplained bruises or burns; fear of going home; age-inappropriate behaviors such as thumb-sucking or bed-wetting, or inappropriate sexual behaviors. A child who is chronically unwashed may be neglected. Other signs of possible neglect are lack of medical or dental care or drug or alcohol abuse, experts say.

To reduce the risk of mistreatment, friends and family should be especially attentive to the needs of parents of very young children, Wildeman said. “The risk of childhood maltreatment is about four times higher in the first year than any other age,” he said, citing his research.

Having loved ones pitch in during that time might ease the burden and the stress, Wildeman said.

Protect your child from predators with these important tips!

Baby Care Basics: What is Shaken Baby Syndrome?
Baby Care Basics: What is Shaken Baby Syndrome?
Baby Care Basics: What is Shaken Baby Syndrome?

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Child Abuse Down, Neglect Up

Friday, September 13th, 2013

Physical and sexual abuse of children has declined over the past two decades, but the number of children who experience emotional abuse and neglect–mostly by their parents–is increasing.  These are the findings of a report by the Institute of Medicine, where researchers called the data a mixed blessing.  More from NBC News:

Dr. Lolita McDavid, medical director of child advocacy and protection at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, says she believes awareness explains a lot. “I think we are much more aware now that there is physical and sexual abuse and I think we do a much better job of making families and children understand that,” McDavid told NBC News.

“We are empowering children.”

But the experts say it’s vital to look into the reasons that physical abuse may be going down, yet neglect and emotional abuse are staying at the same levels. They call for sustained federal research into what’s going on and a new database to track child abuse statistics.

Even if numbers are going down, overall, many children are abused and neglected in the United States, the panel of experts reports.

“Each year more than 3 million referrals for child abuse and neglect are received that involve around 6 million children, although most of these reports are not substantiated,” the report reads.

Image: Neglected girl, via Shutterstock

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‘Elmo’ Puppeteer Kevin Clash Faces New Sex Abuse, Drug Lawsuit

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Kevin Clash, the puppeteer who created the “Elmo” character during his years working for Sesame Workshop, is facing new accusations of sexual relations with a minor, as well as charges that he used the illegal drug known as crystal meth.  Clash resigned from Sesame Street in November of last year after two accusers alleged sexual misconduct.

More on the new lawsuit from NBC News:

The man behind the iconic “Sesame Street” character is named in a sexual abuse lawsuit filed by Sheldon Stephens, who was the first individual to accuse Clash of abuse in 2012.

Stephens claims in a new complaint filed Monday in Middle District Court of Pennsylvania that he and Clash met in 2004 through a social networking event for models and actors. According to a press release sent by Stephens’ attorney Jeff Herman, the complaint includes accusations that Clash and Stephens began having sexual intercourse when Stephens was 16. It details an occasion when Stephens was still 16 and Clash hosted a “crystal meth sex party” at his apartment. The complaint also accuses Clash of doing meth at that party, giving the drugs to Stephens, and engaging in sexual contact with the then-teenager.

Michael Berger, an attorney for Clash, issued a statement Tuesday calling the lawsuit “meritless” and “barred by the statute of limitations.” In the statement, Berger writes that Stephens has “already admitted in writing that he had ‘an adult consensual relationship’ with Mr. Clash. Mr Clash continues to deny any wrongdoing, and we intend to defend this case forcefully.”

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Boy Scouts Consider Allowing Openly Gay Members

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

The Boy Scouts of America, which has been fielding criticism in the wake of revelations of sexual abuse by its leaders, has announced it is reconsidering its policy of barring openly gay boys and men from participating in the organization.  More from CNN:

The organization, which has 2.7 million members, is “potentially discussing” doing away with its national policy after months of protest, including hundreds of angry Eagle Scouts renouncing their hard-earned awards and mailing back their red-white-and-blue medals.

Many parents of Scouts across America found the national policy excluding gays confusing — and at odds with basic scouting ideals.

Social media were abuzz with outrage over the policy; gay men who used to be Scouts spoke out in first-person blogs. On her TV talk show, Ellen DeGeneres featured a California Scout who had been denied his Eagle rank because he is gay.

Members of the organization’s national board are expected to bring up the issue at a regularly scheduled biannual meeting in February. Any change would be announced after that.

In the Scouts’ statement Monday, the group indicated that the national board may consider passing any decisions on gay membership to the local level. Each troop’s charter organization would be able to decide “consistent with each organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs.”

“The policy change under discussion would allow the religious, civic, or educational organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting to determine how to address this issue,” the statement said.

The statement itself is remarkable. Some members will see the fact that Scouting’s national leadership is even discussing a policy change as a softening of its stance on gays and lesbians.

But some Scouts and Scout parents say that passing the decision to the local level will have little effect on the ground, because many troops have been ignoring the national policy anyway.

Image: Boy Scout, via Shutterstock

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Child Abuse Rate Drops for Fifth Consecutive Year

Friday, December 14th, 2012

The number of children who are abused or neglected in America has dropped for the fifth year in a row, an annual report from the Department of Health and Human Services has announced. More from The Huffington Post:

The latest annual report from the Department of Health and Human Services, released Wednesday, estimates that there were 681,000 cases of child abuse or neglect across the nation in the 2011 fiscal year. That’s down from 695,000 in 2010 and from 723,000 in 2007.

“We have made excellent progress over the past five years,” said George Sheldon, HHS acting assistant secretary for children and families. “But what this report tells me is that we still have 681,000 children out there who need our help.”

The number of abuse-related fatalities was estimated at 1,570 – down from 1,580 in 2010 and from 1,720 in 2007. About four­fifths of those killed were younger than 4, and parents were deemed responsible for nearly four-fifths of the deaths.

Texas had the most fatalities, with 246, followed by Florida with 133, while Montana reported no abuse-related deaths. The highest rates of child fatalities were in Louisiana, Oklahoma and West Virginia.

Regarding the overall maltreatment figures, white children accounted for almost 44 percent of the victims, black children for 21.5 percent and Hispanic children for 22.1 percent. About 11 percent of the victims were physically or mentally disabled.

Regarding types of maltreatment, 78.5 percent of the victims suffered neglect, nearly 18 percent were physically abused and 9.1 percent were sexually abused. The report tallied 61,472 children who were sexually abused in 2011 – down dramatically from the peak of about 150,000 in 1992.

The report, formally known as the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, is based on input from child protection agencies in every state. About four-fifths of the reports received by the agencies do not lead to findings of maltreatment, according to the report.

Image: Sad girl, via Shutterstock

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