By now, I would hope that most of my readers know that most abuse is not a result of strangers abducting children, but something much closer to home. Abusers are mostly people known to kids, and to families. The reason the child abduction cases garner so much attention when they happen is because they are actually pretty rare. Yes, they happen, but if your prevention strategy is to teach kids about stranger danger, you’re only hitting less than 10% of the risk.
Today, I saw an article that underscores just how much abuse occurs without ever leaving the family.
In the article, first there’s the reality of older studies which show how frequent it is that abuse material is produced at home:
However, the sad fact is that online exploitation begins at home for many kids, and in those cases their parent is the last person who can be trusted to keep them safe. One study of 150 adult survivors, who indicated they had appeared in sexual abuse material as children, found 42% identified their biological or adoptive/stepfather as the primary offender. More than two-thirds of such images appear to have been made at home.
Then, in a more detailed look at 82 Australian cases of online child abuse material where a parent was the perpetrator, it becomes clear that this is not a rare occurrence.
The victim’s biological father (58%) or stepfather (41%) were most likely to be the offender. However, the victim’s biological mother was involved in 28% of cases, most often as a co-offender.
As the article goes on to discuss, we need to be considering these things when we talk about child abuse. We have a large number of educational resources available for parents, but maybe we shouldn’t assume that every parent is out to protect their kids, and we need to reconsider the fact that anyone and everyone should be on the lookout for the signs of abuse, and also aware that it might just be a parent who is abusing. It’s not a pleasant thought, but it is the reality that many of us know all too well.