For too many children child abuse is what they know every day of their lives. Over 2.6 million cases of child abuse were reported last year in this country. Eighty-five to 90% of sexual abuse happens with a person known to the child. But these figures do not tell the real story. Evidence is mounting that child maltreatment is the precursor to nearly every major social problem in this culture. Consider these figures:
- 95% of child abusers were themselves abused as children;
- 80% of substance abusers were abused as children;
- 80% of runaways cite child abuse as a factor;
- 78% of our prison population were abused as children; and
- 95% of prostitutes were sexually abused.
Long-term studies of low achievers, runaways, drug abusers, prostitutes and incarcerated individuals paint a disturbing picture. Abuse is a consistent and pervasive element in their backgrounds. Low self-esteem and poor self-concept are ever-present. Not every child who is abused has problems of this magnitude, but we know child abuse robs far too many children of their ability to freely reach their full potential. Their loss is our loss and “band-aid” measure will not address this epidemic.
Knowing this, there can be little doubt that children who are abused, as well as adults who were abused as children, need assistance to resolve the questions that the abuse experience has raised, even if that assistance does not come until years after the abuse.