April is Child Abuse Awareness month and it is a very important issue to all of us.
On April 9, a candlelight vigil was held at the Historic Lancaster County Court House grounds in honor of children who endure abuse and neglect. The Guardian ad Litem Program and the Lancaster County Department of Social Services sponsored the event. It was a community gathering to demonstrate their commitment to eliminate child abuse and neglect.
Child abuse is a devastating crime, whose victims are least able to protect themselves or speak out. Their perpetrators are most likely to be repeat offenders.
Almost 90,000 cases of child sexual abuse are reported each year, but that total falls short of the actual number because abuse usually goes unreported. Child victims are often afraid to tell or too young to tell anyone what happened.
Law enforcements agencies reported the following information:
• 67 percent were under 18
• 34 percent were under 12
• 14 percent were under 6
According to the child welfare information, a perpetrator is a person who has been determined to have caused or knowingly allowed the maltreatment of a child. Most states define perpetrators of child abuse and neglect as parents and other caregivers (such as relatives, babysitters, and foster parents) who have harmed a child in their care.
Despite what children are taught about “stranger danger,” most child victims are abused by someone whom they know and trust. When the abuser is not a family member, the victim is more often a boy than a girl. The results of a three-state study reported rape survivors under the age of 12 revealed the following about offenders: 96 percent were known to the victims; 50 percent were acquaintances of friends; 20 percent were fathers; 16 percent were relatives; and 4 percent were strangers.
If you know anyone you feel is being abused or neglected, call Lancaster County DSS at 803-286-6914 or, in York County, call 800-422-4453.
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