Unthinkable as it is to imagine someone intentionally hurting a child, about 1 million children are abused every year in the United States. And these are only the reported incidents — many more are unreported and undetected, often because children are afraid to tell. When mistreatment becomes abuse, children are injured, neglected, and emotionally damaged. Approximately 1,000 to 1,300 U.S. children are known to die as a result of physical abuse, and those who survive suffer emotional trauma that lasts long after the bruises have healed.
Some studies report that in the United States, as many as one out of every eight boys and one out of every four girls is sexually abused before turning 18 years old. In 90% of these cases, sexual abuse occurs in the home, particularly when younger children are involved. A child who knows the abuser (about 90% of cases involve an abuser who was previously known to the child) usually senses that the abuse is wrong, but he may feel trapped by the affection he feels for the person or fearful of the power the abuser has over him, so he doesn’t tell. Whatever the statistics, one thing we know is that child abuse is too frequent and too often hidden.