Crimes Against Children: The Horrible Truth

Crimes against children


Kids. So innocent. So loving. And so…well, I believe the Oak Ridge Boys say it best with these few simple words:

When you look down in those trusting eyes

That look to you, you realize

There’s a love that you can’t buy

Thank God for kids…

The ugly truth of the matter is that every day children all over the world are abducted, abused, battered, beaten, raped, and killed. Unfortunately, the dishonor and shame associated with abuse at the hand of a loved one is often so great that victims have a tendency to not report the crimes. As a result, many, if not most, crimes against children remain hidden from public view, and from the eyes of law enforcement officials (only 12% of child abuse cases are reported).

Here’s an indication of just how bad the problem really is. Hold on, because it isn’t pretty.

– Children (under the age of 18) account for 67% of all sexual assault victimizations reported to law enforcement. Remember, many, if not most, cases aren’t reported. 34% of those cases involve children under the age of 12. Children under 6 years account for 14% of all reported cases.

– A little over half of ALL children (530 per 1,000) have experienced a physical assault. Of those children, the highest number of assaults occurred on children between 6 and 12 years of age. 323 per 1,000 are sexually assaulted, and 22 per 1,000 are victims of complete rape.

– 1 in 4 girls is sexually abused before the age of 18.

– 1 in 6 boys is sexually abused before the age of 16.

– The most common age when sexual abuse occurs is between 8 and 12.

– More than 90% of all sexual abuse victims know their attacker. Nearly 50% of the perpetrators live within the same household.

– The U.S. has the highest number of rapes in the world (among the countries that report statistics).

– 74% of all abducted children are murdered within three hours of the kidnapping.

– The average child molester will molest 50 girls before being caught.

– Molesters who target boys will molest 150 victims before being caught. Additionally, he will commit at least 280 sexual crimes during his lifetime.

– Most sexual abuse occurs between the age of 7 and 13.

– Most offenders who assault children are white.

– 2/3 of all offenders who assault children were or had been married, and were more likely to have been victims of child abuse.

So there you have it, the ugly truth that no one wants to talk about.

Why don’t you take a moment to do something nice for your kids today, starting with a hug.



Sources – FBI, Crimes Against Children Research Center, and The National Sheriff’s Association (Master Deputy Mike Robertson: Crimes Against Children).

* As always, I thank the Oak Ridge Boys for all they do.

*I’ll be traveling for the next several days, therefore my responses to messages may be delayed. Actually, the entire Writers’ Police Academy staff is on the road at the moment. We’re on separate missions in different locations throughout the country, but we’ll soon be back at our desks working on last minute details for what is going to be the the most exciting weekend of your life (unless you’re an astronaut or one of the Flying Wallendas).

19 replies
  1. Wil A. Emerson
    Wil A. Emerson says:

    Lee, I’m late in reading this but find it so compelling and sad. Truth hurts. Life is difficult.
    I have a dilemma I’d like to share with you, perhaps get advice. Can email me privately if you’d like.
    Scenario: A 50yr.old man who does occasionally work at our home has been accused of multiple sex crimes, 1st-3rd with under thirteen yr.old.He and wife take in foster children, Picture, details in our local paper; he was arraigned. Nothing since that date -Mid March–no follow up report in the paper. He has called me to continue the service he provides. Is there a way to check the progress of the accusations? I’m generally the ‘where there’s smoke’ kind of person. But people are also wrongly accused of gross crimes. Perhaps others have encountered a similar dilemma.

  2. NikeChillemi
    NikeChillemi says:

    As a former foster mom, and presently an adoptive mom of children who had been in the foster care system whose parents did nothing to get them back, I’m painfully aware of what abuse children go through. At the hands of relatives, also sometimes at the hands of foster parents.

    Thx for shedding light on this.

  3. Thomas Pluck
    Thomas Pluck says:

    Thank you for sharing these revolting statistics. We remain in denial about them.
    That is why I support PROTECT ( who lobby for stronger laws, enforcement of existing laws, and funding for laws like ICANN that give police the resources to hunt down child porn traffickers and abusers.

  4. Jenna Blue
    Jenna Blue says:

    Thank you for posting. I’ve been shocked, more than once to discover, that in my groups of girlfirends, every single one of them has a story, each worse than the last, about sexual abuse growing up. The statistic says: 1 out of 4 girls is sexually abused before age 18, but hearing the stories of my friends–none of whom happened to be in the system–I can’t believe that number isn’t 3 out of 4. It’s so true that these crimes are not reported, often not even to their parents, let alone the law.
    Jenna Blue

  5. John Gordon
    John Gordon says:

    Lee, a major theme in my book “Gathering Roses” is Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy. It’s one of the wierdest psychological conditions imaginable, wherein a parent, most frequently the mom (who typically has some medical training) harms her child in any one of a number of ways to necessitate a visit to a physician. The mom does this any number of times so that she, the mother, can derive some kind of psychological satisfaction. She’s able to fool the doctor into treating the kid and, although the doctor will not find the cause of the presenting symptoms, he or she doesn’t suspect abuse because the mother seems to be a loving,caring parent.

  6. Chris
    Chris says:

    Those are some of the saddest stats I’ve ever read, especially the three hour bit. I can’t help but think of all of those parents hoping their child is part of the 26 percent. They can’t even report the child missing before it’s too late. Wow.

  7. Jenny Milchman
    Jenny Milchman says:

    Hug them every day, and more, and teach them as best you can to be assertive, strong, and confident–and aware of what dangers are out there. It won’t take care of the blight you describe, but it will do something.

  8. Elaine Abramson
    Elaine Abramson says:

    With the nightly news portraying men as the abusers, most people assume that all abusers are men. In many cases female abusers are far worse than male abusers. Most children look to their mothers to nurture and protect them. But, when the abuser is the mother, the child has no one to turn to and often compounds the abuse by turning inward taking drugs, using alcohol, or harming their body.

  9. Gayle Carline
    Gayle Carline says:

    My friend and I were just talking about this yesterday. We were both raised in eras or environments where we were not particularly supervised as children. In the summers, I was out the door by 9 a.m. and didn’t come home until dusk, when my mom would stand on the front porch and yell my name. She had no clue where I was. When I was in second grade, I walked the couple of blocks to school by myself.

    Even though nothing horrid happened to me, there is no way I would have let my son do either of those things. He couldn’t even play in the front yard without me.

    Has the world changed that much, Lee? Or is it just a matter of more people = more bad people?

  10. Shana Rowan
    Shana Rowan says:

    Here is another statistic worth mentioning: 95% of sex crimes against children are committed by people who have no prior conviction for one. That means that the sex offender registry is doing nothing to prevent crimes. (Also remember that many sex offenders do not have child victims and are not pedophiles).

    Ironically, more often than not, I am met with anger and fury when I post this. It seems a lot of people who say they care about children really just don’t want to lose a convenient outlet and justification for their need to hate and blame someone else. In my mind it cannot be much simpler, though. If we are serious about protecting children, we need to wake up to how little our laws are doing about it.

  11. SZ
    SZ says:

    It is sad that even with as much education out there now for kids and programs at school that kids do not report more.

    Happy birthday to my little from Big Brothers Big Sisters ! We met in 2000. She is not so little anymore =D

  12. KC
    KC says:

    I was one of those children.

    You didn’t mention the stats for the physical abuse that happens to children with disabilities.

    I was abandoned at a stranger’s house with a broken arm and two black eyes swollen shut. I couldn’t walk. When no one came back for me, the woman’s neighbors brought the cops.

    Foster care was a walk in the park.

    My parent kept her abuser and even moved out of state with him.

    Four years later I was sprung from foster care by my father who preferred to abuse his wives.

    Life is a crap shoot I suppose.

    I’m much better now. Till someone brings it up.


  13. Holly McClure
    Holly McClure says:

    Lee, thanks for making us aware of these shocking statistics. It’s hard to imagine how anyone could be callous enough to harm a child. I’ve visited elementary schools with locked doors and security guards and couldn’t believe we had come to a place in our society where that was necessary. No matter what we do to protect kids in school, some of them go home to an unsafe environment and have to live with their abuser. This is a tragedy.

  14. Teresa Reasor
    Teresa Reasor says:

    Thanks for posting this. I’m sharing it. As a teacher— I used to worry myself to death about some of the kids. It’s such a frustrating, overwhelming thing and so difficult to deal with. Especially when there’s suspicion and just not enough there to report it.


  15. Maryann Mercer
    Maryann Mercer says:

    Thanks for posting Lee…I think you must know you’re preaching to the choir here, but if at least one person who doesn’t know the statistics learns them from this post, it has served its purpose. Endangering children is as simple as leaving them unattended in a public place…sound impossible? Not in the world of malls and retail stores. I was working in the children’s department of my bookstore last night and saw just that. Two children, the oldest a boy no older than perhaps seven and his sister, were quietly getting books and sitting either at the table or on the stage where we hold storytimes. They were there from before my arrival at 4PM and were still there, on their own, no adult in sight, at 6PM. I mentioned this to the MOD who took the kids around to try and find a parent. Neither mother or father was to be found. By 6:45PM the MOD was ready to call the police to report abandonment, when a guy in denims walked into the department with a third, older, boy and walked over to the little girl who looked up and said “Hi Daddy”. According to a conversation with the younger boy earlier, my manager ascertained that the mom had brought them in, NOT the dad. I don’t have to tell you what I wanted to say to that guy. We are just seconds away from a major Interstate that hooks up with two others not ten minutes away. Anyone could have come in and carried at least one of those kids out of the store, especially since the boy left his sister alone several times while he went looking for books. We aren’t babysitters, although people view us that way when they decide to leave their kids and go have coffee in the cafe. We even have signs posted directing parents not to leave their children unattended. We couldn’t even stop a person carrying a screaming child out of the store because so many little ones don’t want to leave the books and Chuggington to go elsewhere. Yes we practice Code Adam, but that’s NOT preventative. It is so easy to ‘lose’ a child just for a minute these days…and a minute is all it takes. How people can be so casual about the whereabouts of their little ones angers me no end.

  16. Rusty Fairbanks
    Rusty Fairbanks says:

    There are also problems within the “system” that is supposed to respond to reported cases of suspected abuse: Child Protective Service agencies that give a higher priority to “reuniting” families than keeping the abused child safe from those who committed the abuse in the first place – or those CPS agencies that don’t want law enforcement involved and therefore do not cross-report; district attorney offices that do not want to be involved until/unless the case is (for sure) going to trial and therefore never see the condition of neglected children until after the temporary foster homes have gotten them back to a point of appearing healthy (so true in physical neglect situations); and then there are the family court judges who are more willing to return the child to the abusive family, especially if it is the mother, than keep the child in a safer foster home.

    I saw all of these system failures during my own professional experiences in California.

    Yes, there are good CPS departments in some places, and Yes, some family court judges are more willing to be involved and become better trained – but not enough. Not nearly enough.

  17. Gerrie Ferris Finger
    Gerrie Ferris Finger says:

    Thanks, Lee. The targeting of disadvantaged and throwaway children (a lot in foster care) by pedophiles and kidnap-for-sex rings was what made me write The End Game published in 2010.

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