Accurate statistics on the prevalence of child sexual abuse are difficult to come by for many reasons: some victims are uncertain about the precise definition of sexual abuse, or they might be unwilling to report, and/or uncomfortable about sex and sexuality in gen­eral (Ephross, 2005: Finkelhor, 1984). The overall reported incidence has been increas­ing over the past 30 years. In the Kinsey and colleagues (1953) study of 441 females, 9% reported sexual contact with an adult before the age of 14. By the late 1970s and early 1980s, reports of child sexual abuse were increasing dramatically; 1,975 cases were re­ported in 1976, 22,918 in 1982 (Finkelhor, 1984), and 130,000 by 1986 (Jetter, 1991). It is estimated that 1 out of every 4 girls and 1 out of every 10 boys experiences sexual abuse as a child (Fieldman & Crespi, 2002; Valente, 2005).

Perhaps the increase in the incidence of child sexual abuse is a reflection of the changing sexual climate (in which there is less tolerance for such behavior), rather than an actual increase in the number of sexual assaults on children. The women’s movement and the child protection movement both have focused attention on child sexual abuse issues (Finkelhor, 1984). Women’s groups often teach that child sexual abuse is due to the patriarchal social structure and must be treated through victim protection. The child protection movement views the problem as one that develops out of a dysfunctional family and is treated through family therapy.

The reported incidence of child sexual abuse in other countries is much lower than in the United States (Finkelhor, 1984). However, note that the rate in the United States increased as the sexual climate changed. The incidence in other countries may be simi­lar to the United States, but the United States may be more receptive to reports of abuse or may define child sexual abuse differently.

Подпись:Подпись:Recently there has been some doubt about the credibility of child sex abuse report­ing. Would a child ever “make up” a story of sexual abuse? Research has shown that false reports occur in fewer than 10% of reported cases (Besharov, 1988). This is important because a child’s report of sexual abuse remains the single most important factor in di­agnosing abuse (Heger et al., 2002).