Media stories of childhood sex abuse have filled the airwaves of late; from the Penn State trial of Jerry Sandusky to the ongoing Catholic Church scandals to the first conviction of a high ranking church official. While these stories stir our outrage, their telling and re-telling truly only reflect the tip of the iceberg when it comes to both the enormity and secrecy surrounding childhood sexual abuse. In fact, childhood sexual abuse makes up more than ten percent of the millions of reported childhood abuse cases in the US.
Worldwide, research shows that up to 36% of girls and 29% of boys have suffered child sexual abuse and coercion. According to the World Health Organization, these statistics represent 150 million girls and 73 million boys under the age of 18 who experienced forced sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual violence. That number increases substantially when you include the vast sexual slave trade market that holds millions more children in its grasp. Most shocking of all is that even these numbers are considered to be only fractional because sexual abuse carries such profound taboos that the vast majority goes unreported by the victims themselves.