FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: OJJDP
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 24, 2001 202/307-0703
CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE CASES FALL 31 PERCENT OVER SIX YEARS
WASHINGTON, D.C. – After a 15-year increase, substantiated child sexual abuse cases in the United States dropped 31 percent from 1992 to 1998, according to a new report from the Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). Most states – 36 out of the 47 reporting – showed declines of at least 30 percent.
“These new data are quite remarkable,” said OJJDP Acting Administrator John J. Wilson. “The challenge now is to increase our understanding of why these cases are declining and to use this information to better prevent and respond to child sexual abuse.”
The drop in child sexual abuse cases was much greater than the decline in physical abuse or neglect cases over the same period. The bulletin, The Decline in Child Sexual Abuse Cases, offers possible explanations. One possibility is an actual fall in the incidence of child sexual abuse. Key parallel indicators, such as the rates of female victimization by intimate partners, rapes and overall violent crime, have fallen in recent years. Recent statistics also show a decrease in the rate of teen births, which can be closely related to child sexual abuse.
Another possibility is that issues unrelated to actual occurrence of child sexual abuse are affecting the way child sexual abuse is reported. For example, the public and professionals could be better able to distinguish between child sexual abuse and other problems.
The Decline in Child Sexual Abuse Cases was prepared for OJJDP by Drs. Lisa Jones and David Finkelhor of the University of New Hampshire’s Crimes Against Children Research Center. They used data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, as well as data from the Annual Fifty State Survey conducted by Prevent Child Abuse America.
The Decline in Child Sexual Abuse Cases and information about OJJDP publications, programs and conferences are available through the OJJDP Website at www.ojjdp.ncjrs.org and from OJJDP's Juvenile Justice Clearinghouse, Box 6000, Rockville, Maryland 20857. The toll-free number is 1-800/638-8736.
Information about other Office of Justice Programs (OJP) bureaus and program offices is available at www.ojp.usdoj.gov. Media should contact OJP’s Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at 202/307-0703.
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