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Child sex abuse cases dramatically decline in US, says report

Despite the headlines hyping scandals at Penn State and the Boy Scouts, child sex abuse cases in the US, by several data gauges, have dramatically declined since the 1990s, say University of New Hampshire researchers.

By Beth J. HarpazAssociated Press / November 30, 2012

Child sex abuse cases are in decline according to a new report with one source citing a 47 percent drop between 1993 and 2005.

Margaret Scott

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NEW YORK

Increased public awareness of how child predators operate, along with better law enforcement and policies to protect children, may be helping to reduce child sex abuse despite this year's headlines about cases connected to institutions like Penn State, the Boy Scouts and the BBC.

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Researchers at the University of New Hampshire's Crimes Against Children Research Center say data from a half a dozen   sources suggest child sex abuse cases have dramatically declined since the 1990s. Here are details on data from the report, written by UNH professors David Finkelhor and Lisa Jones and published in the center's October 2012 bulletin.

– The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, which aggregates data from state child protective agencies, shows a 62 percent decline in rates of substantiated sexual abuse between 1992 and 2010. The raw numbers showed a drop from 150,000 to 63,000 cases, primarily in cases involving abuse by family members and other caregivers, who are statistically the most likely perpetrators in child sex abuse cases, although they are less likely to be the subject of news stories.

– The National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect, a sample survey of professionals who work with children conducted by the federal government once a decade, documented a 47 percent decline in sexual abuse between 1993 and 2005.

FBI statistics based on local law enforcement crime reports show a 35 percent drop between 1992 and 2010. The FBI does not break down rape by age of victim, but over 50 percent of victims of reported rapes are under 18, so a drop in FBI rape statistics is considered a good indicator of a drop in sex crimes against minors.

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