Trends In Child Victimization
There have been some fascinating and encouraging developments in child victimization that have not received much publicity and run counter to popular perception. Certain types of abuse and crimes against children have been declining since the early 1990s.
- From 1990 to 2007, substantiated cases of child sexual abuse have declined 53% and physical abuse substantiations have declined 52%. Child neglect has declined only 6%, mostly fluctuating over the same period.
- From 1993 to 2005, sexual assaults on teenagers decreased by 52%. The subgroup of assaults by known persons decreased even more dramatically.
- Other crimes against children 12 to 17 years old have also declined:
- Aggravated assault down 69%
- Simple assault down 59%
- Robbery down 62%
- Larceny down 54%
While the long-term trends are encouraging, the reasons for them remain unclear. An improving economy, advances in psychopharmacology, changes in social values, and more effective interventions, are among the factors that, most likely working in concert, may have contributed to this downward trend in child victimization. Research is ongoing.
David Finkelhor and Lisa Jones (2006). Why have Child Maltreatment and Child Victimization Declined. Journal of Social Issues, 62(4): 685-716. Order #CV137J
Finkelhor, D., Saito, K., & Jones, L. (2016). Updated Trends in Child Maltreatment, 2014. Durham, NH: Crimes against Children Research Center.