New Report Reveals Public Views on Child Sexual Abuse

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE    

           
Contact: 

Deborah Donovan Rice
Stop It Now! Executive Director
drice@stopitnow.org
413-587-3500 ext. 1
 

National survey measures public views on child sexual abuse

 

Majority of adults well-informed and aware - and support treatment for offenders

Northampton, Mass. — (July 15, 2010) — Stop It Now!, a national leader in child sexual abuse prevention, today released national survey results which document that U.S. adults are not only aware and concerned about child sexual abuse, but are also quite informed about where risks lie. Clear majorities also agreed that people who sexually abuse children should get specialized treatment and that treatment can help them stop abusing.

The new report "What Do U.S. Adults Think about Child Sexual Abuse?” is based on survey responses from over 5,000 adults on the topic of child sexual abuse prevention. One in five adults reported on the survey that they were sexually abused in childhood, including 29 percent of women and 14 percent of men. These rates are consistent with other research.

Key findings include:

  • 95% of adults surveyed believed that children who are sexually abused are most likely to be abused by someone they know.
  • 64% agreed that many children who are sexually abused are abused by other children or teens.
  • 68% agreed that some people who sexually abuse children would like to get help to stop.
  • 53% believed child sexual abuse is a major problem in their communities.
  • 96% agreed that those in prison for sexually offending children should get treatment.

Results indicate that adults are better informed about the issue of child sexual abuse than media coverage and public discussion might suggest. This was one of several results that surprised participants in a June 29th webcast that previewed the report.

 “The field of sexual abuse prevention is only as strong as the evidence it has to support prevention initiatives, guide communications and drive policy development,” said James M. Hmurovich, President & CEO, Prevent Child Abuse America. “And the research being led by Stop It Now! is not only pioneering, but because it highlights both the perception and reality of the public’s response to the innovative work currently being done in the field, it will also help guide all such efforts going forward.” 

Findings also underscore that widespread and informed public awareness of the child sexual abuse problem does not translate into comparable community concern or individual action. Results show that a minority of adults are able to recognize behaviors or acknowledge situations of high risk in their immediate circles and daily life.

“The findings are encouraging because they suggest that lack of awareness and knowledge is not as great a barrier to prevention as assumed. We need to redouble our efforts to understand and overcome the practical and policy barriers that keep more of us from taking action when there are concerns – and, ideally, well before,” said Deborah Donovan Rice, Executive Director of Stop It Now!.

Stop It Now! and its local affiliates commissioned ten telephone surveys between 1995 and 2007 to gauge adult knowledge and attitudes on the issue. The respondents to these surveys represent a cross section of everyday people in six states covering three regions of the U.S.

A link to the full report and related documents can be found at:  http://www.StopItNow.org/RDD_survey_report

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Since 1992, Stop It Now! has been helping adults protect children from sexual abuse. Through its website, national Help Services, materials and community programs, Stop It Now! provides balanced information and practical guidance to adults and families so they can keep children safe in their homes and communities.