Facts About Child Abuse

Child Abuse in Delaware
  • In fiscal year 2018, the Division of Family Services received 20,528 reports of child abuse, neglect or dependency. – (www.dscyf.org)
  • In fiscal year 2018, the Division of Family Services investigated 8,642 reports of child abuse, neglect or dependency. – (www.dscyf.org)
Child Abuse in the U.S.
  • More than 4 children die every day in the United States due to child abuse.
  • An estimated 1,720 children died from abuse and neglect in the U.S. in 2017. – (www.acf.hhs.gov)
Children with Disabilities
  • Children with disabilities are more likely to become victims of abuse than children without disabilities. – (www.ncac.org)
  • Children with disabilities are two to three times more likely to experience Child Sexual Abuse than children without disabilities. – (www.ncac.org)
Child Neglect
  • Child Neglect is the most common form of maltreatment. – (www.ncac.org)
  • While all types of abuse are possible in the home, Child Neglect is the most common type of abuse experienced at home. – (www.ncac.org)
Child Sexual Abuse and Gender
  • 1 in 7 girls and 1 in 25 boys will be sexually abused before reaching the age of 18. – (literature published in 2013)
  • Boys and girls react in similar ways to sexual abuse. The severity of traumatization among male victims of sexual abuse is equal to that of female victims. – (www.ncac.org)
Perpetrators of Child Abuse and Neglect
  • Children are usually victimized by someone they know. In 2015, 91.6% of victims (all types) were maltreated by one or both parents. Other perpetrators known to the victims included foster parents, other relatives, neighbors and daycare providers. – (www.ncac.org)
  • 90% of children who are victims of sexual assault know their abuser. – (www.d2l.org)
  • Child abuse happens in every part of society. Rates of physical abuse and neglect are affected by socioeconomic status. It is Child Sexual Abuse perpetration/victimization that occurs in all parts of society. – (www.ncac.org)
  • 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused before age 18. – (www.d2l.org)
  • Children rarely tell someone they are being abused. Research has found that most child victims delay or never disclose child sexual abuse to friends, family or authorities. – (www.ncac.org)
  • It is extremely rare for a child to lie about sexual abuse. False allegations of sexual abuse by children and adolescents are statistically uncommon, occurring at the rate of 2 to 10% of all cases. – (www.ncac.org)
  • Medical evidence is rarely discovered after a child discloses sexual abuse. Medical evidence is found in less than 5% of substantiated Child Sexual Abuse cases. – (www.ncac.org)
  • Nearly 70% of ALL reported sexual assaults occur to children ages 17 and under. – (literature published in 2000/2010)
  • Child sexual abuse is likely the most prevalent health problem children face with the most serious array of consequences. – (literature published in 2013)
  • Only 10% of sexually abused children are abused by a stranger. – (literature published in 2012)
  • Children who are sexually abused are not destined to continue the cycle of abuse as adults. Sexual Abuse victims rarely go on to become perpetrators of sexual abuse. – (www.ncac.org)
  • Men and women are both capable of Sexual Abuse. At least 20% of substantiated Child Sexual Abuse cases are perpetrated by females. – (www.ncac.org)
  • A report of child abuse and neglect is made every 10 seconds.
  • The effects of child abuse are lifelong.
  • Children who experience abuse are:
    • 59% more likely to be arrested as a juvenile
    • 28% more likely to be arrested as an adult
    • 30% more likely to commit a crime of violence
  • 14% of all men and 36% of all women in prison were abused as children.

Disclosure of Abuse and the Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) Process

Allegations of child abuse come to light in different ways. The child may disclose abuse, or someone may suspect or witness abuse. No matter how it comes to light, talking about abuse is often very difficult for the child. In fact, children are more likely to deny abuse or to minimize what has happened than to readily provide details about it. Many factors may impact a child’s ability or willingness to make a disclosure about abuse. If a child discloses abuse, it is important that the person listens to and supports the child but does not question the child. In Delaware, any person who knows about or suspects child abuse must make a report to the Division of Family Services (DFS) and to the police. The Division of Family Services and law enforcement professionals often conduct joint investigations in response to child abuse allegations which may include having the child interviewed at the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC). By employing the CAC model, the child is interviewed in a safe, child-friendly environment by a professional Forensic Interviewer. Forensic Interviewers at the CAC are specially trained and have experience specific to the dynamics of child abuse, child development and the disclosure process. Forensic interviews conducted at the CAC are recorded for and observed by a multidisciplinary team (MDT) of professionals from the Division of Family Services, law enforcement, the Department of Justice and CAC Family Resource Advocates. The MDT may also include medical and mental health professionals. This approach allows the MDT to work together more effectively and minimizes the number of times a child must retell and relive his or her abuse experience.

What is Child Abuse?

Child abuse occurs when someone, whether through action or failing to act, causes emotional harm, physical harm, injury, death, or risk of serious harm to a child. There are many different types of abuse such as; emotional abuse, exploitation, neglect, physical abuse and sexual abuse. Children may be directly (victim) or indirectly (witness) impacted by abuse. Being abused or witnessing abuse or violence may be experienced as a traumatic event and may require mental health services. Click here to go to the Caregiver Handbook: Understanding Abuse and the Healing Process to learn more about supporting your child and understanding trauma. See below for more information for sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect and witnessing abuse or violence.

Physical Abuse occurs when someone causes a non-accidental physical injury to a child. Some physical abuse behaviors include: beating, biting, choking, hitting, kicking, punching, pulling hair or suffocating. Click here to go to the Caregiver Handbook: Understanding Abuse and the Healing Process to learn more about physical abuse and its impact; or click here to go to Childhelp.org to learn more about physical abuse (and other types of abuse) and its impact.

Neglect occurs when a child is not provided the care, supervision, affection and support needed for health, safety and well-being. There are different types of neglect, such as, physical neglect, emotional neglect, medical neglect and educational neglect. Some neglect behaviors include: not providing appropriate supervision, failing to provide food, drink or weather appropriate clothing, isolating the child from friends and loved ones, exposing a child to domestic violence, not seeking medical help when a child is seriously hurt or ill, not enrolling a child in school or providing appropriate home-schooling or allowing a child to be absent from school too much. Click here to go to Childhelp.org to learn more about neglect (and other types of abuse) and its impact.

Witnessing Abuse or Violence occurs when a child sees, hears or is used as part of an abusive or violent act. Children may witness physical abuse, sexual abuse, domestic or intimate partner violence, or school or community violence. Click here to go to the Caregiver Handbook: Understanding Abuse and the Healing Process to learn more about witnessing abuse or violence and its impact.

Sexual Abuse occurs when someone forces, coerces, or tricks a child into sexual contact or acts intended for the sexual gratification of that person. Sexual abuse may include touching or non-touching behaviors. Some sexual abuse behaviors include: communicating with a child in a sexual manner, indecent exposure or “flashing”, exposure to pornography(viewing of and/or participating in), kissing, rubbing or touching the child’s private parts or making the child touch the offender, oral, genital and/or anal contact, vaginal or anal penetration with a penis, finger or object, sexual intercourse and/or coerced sexual acts between children. Click here to go to the Caregiver Handbook: Understanding Abuse and the Healing Process to learn more about sexual abuse and its impact; or click here to go to Childhelp.org to learn more about sexual abuse (and other types of abuse) and its impact.

Below are physical and behavioral indicators of a victim of a sexual abuse/assault.
Please realize these are only indicators and are not necessarily evidence of abuse.

Physical Indicators:
  • Difficulty in walking, sitting, coordination
  • Genital or anal injury (swollen, bleeding)
  • Urinating or defecating in clothing (inability to control)
  • Venereal disease
  • Genital pain and itching
  • Change in neatness of appearance
  • Gaining weight (wearing loose fitting clothes so as not to draw attention to the body)
  • Compulsive masturbation
  • Loss of appetite or sudden increase in appetite (and other more serious eating disorders such as anorexia)
  • Altered sleep patterns (bedwetting, restlessness, nightmares, fear of sleeping alone, needing a night light, being tired all the time)
  • Newly acquired bodily complaints, especially stomach aches
  • Odor (is not taking care of personal hygiene)
Behavioral and Attitude Indicators:
  • Extreme shifts of emotions/moods
  • Fears and phobias especially aimed at one person or location
  • Suddenly turning against someone, such as a parent
  • Restlessness
  • Acting adult-like, inconsistent with age
  • Acting child-like, regression
  • Frequent absences from school
  • Daydreaming, having learning problems
  • Irritability, short tempered
  • Asking questions or having knowledge of terminology inappropriate for age
  • Expresses affection to adults in inappropriate ways
  • Not willing to undress for PE at school
  • Hostility and aggressiveness towards adults or overly trying to please adults
  • Afraid to be alone with adults
  • Isolation, withdrawal
  • Few friends
  • Shying away from being touched
  • Having low self esteem and self image
  • Excessive curiosity about sexual matters
  • Precocious sexual play
  • Verbal descriptions of sexual matters