A new federal study indicates that child abuse rates are dropping drastically in the United States (sexual abuse rates have dropped the most in recent years). Experts in the field credit the decrease in abuse rates to the large public awareness campaigns and crackdowns that have gone on.
From 2005-2006, around 550,000 children were victims of sexual, physical or emotional abuse. However that is 26 percent lower than it was in 1993, with 740,000 estimated victims of abuse. David Finkelhor, a top researcher in the field of child abuse is quoted saying, “It’s the first time since we started collecting data about these things that we’ve seen substantial declines over a long period, and that’s tremendously encouraging. It does suggest that the mobilization around this issue is helping and it’s a problem that is amenable to solutions.”
Beyond any doubt, the rise in awareness of the issues at hand has played a key role in reducing child abuse throughout the country. Through the internet, people are more exposed to the happenings of the world, and child abuse no longer remains in the shadows like it once did. A recent example of this is found in the YouTube channel of a man by the username of “DaddyOfFive”. DaddyOfFive created weekly, and sometimes daily content of him “pranking” his children, two of which were under his family’s care through the foster system. The “pranks” however, often involved physical violence and emotional torture. These pranks were often directed at the two foster children. The YouTube community saw this and created compilation videos demonstrating the violence and emotional abuse, and those served as evidence for the authorities to remove the kids from the abusive situation.
The number of sexually abused children decreased nearly 40 percent from 1993 to 2006. Though many experts didn’t comment on why the trend is moving the way that it is, some offered their theories. “There’s much more public awareness and public intolerance around child abuse now. It was a hidden concern before – people were afraid to talk about it if it was in their family,” said the Child Welfare League of America’s Vice President of Public Policy.
Child abuse has become a far more widely discussed topic in the last decade or so. There is increasing public awareness on the issue via the internet and social media, and child abusers are less able to hide in the shadows. Smartphones have played a significant role in the decline of abuse rates as well. Whereas in the past, child abusers would be able to carry out abusive acts without fear of being seen, now the risk of being caught is higher than ever. When everyone has a camera in their pocket, abusers realize that any of their actions can be filmed as evidence at any moment.
Child abuse is unfortunately still a problem today. There are around 3.6 million referrals to child protection agencies every year. That’s roughly one report every 10 seconds. Physical abuse is the most prevalent among these reports, accounting for nearly 30 percent of all cases. Even though the rates are declining, the United States still has a lot of room to improve when it comes to preventing abuse. The U.S. has some of the highest child abuse rates among industrialized nations; it’s estimated that between four and seven children every day lose their lives to child abuse in the U.S. There is still much work to be done, and people such as Scott Juceam are doing everything they can to eliminate child abuse altogether.
Scott Juceam is one of the leading advocates against Shaken Baby Syndrome. Scott’s life changed when his daughter Hannah was shaken to death by her nanny in 2006. Since then, Scott has dedicated his life to preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse.