On November 25, The Wall Street Journal had an article titled “Abuse Claims Less Likely to Be Ignored.”
The article contains a variety of statistics and other commentary on how sexual abuse has been reported, handled, and punished over the years.
A couple of excerpts:
The sexual-abuse investigation at Penn State marks the latest in a string of high-profile child-molestation allegations in recent decades, but experts say that doesn’t mean such crimes are becoming more common.
Instead, they say, society has become more aware of the threat of child sexual abuse, and far more aggressive about investigating and punishing it. Sentences have grown longer, and the number of people listed on sex-offender registries has jumped.
States have also increased the penalties for convictions. The median prison sentence for sex abusers was 70 months in 2006, up from 44 months in 1996, according to the most recent data from the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics. A federal law enacted in 2006 created a mandatory sentence of at least 30 years for the aggravated sexual abuse of a child under the age of 12. There was no mandatory minimum sentence under prior federal law.
However, the article also states that experts believe that sexual abuse of children remains widely under-reported, for a variety of reasons. It quotes one expert who cites that national surveys have indicated that only 10% of sexual abuse cases are reported to police.