How Much Money is Spent on Child Sexual Abuse Prevention?

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Is the Federal Government Spending Enough to Prevent Child Sex Abuse?

Is the Federal Government Spending Enough to Prevent Child Sex Abuse?

Apr 21, 2022

Child sexual abuse is a nationwide issue affecting millions. Many states have taken action to offer survivors an opportunity at justice by enacting revival windows which extend the statute of limitations on filing civil claims. Moreover, a federal bill to remove the statute of limitations on childhood sexual abuse claims was proposed in December.

How Much Money is Spent on Child Sexual Abuse Prevention?

Despite these efforts, a recent op-ed published in The Hill highlighted the fact that the federal government may not be devoting nearly enough resources to help prevent child sexual abuse.

In the sections below, we will review some important child sexual abuse statistics for 2022, look at how much money is spent on prevention, and discuss how California AB 218 offers survivors an unprecedented opportunity at justice.

Child Sexual Abuse Statistics for 2022

Child Sexual Abuse Statistics for 2022
The National Centers for Victims of Crime (NSVC) offers the following statistics on child sexual abuse:

  • The prevalence of child sexual abuse is difficult to determine because it is often not reported; experts agree that the incidence is far greater than what is reported to authorities.
  • One in five girls and one in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse.
  • Self-report studies show that 20% of adult females and 5-10% of adult males recall a childhood sexual assault or sexual abuse incident.
  • During a one-year period in the U.S., 16% of youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized.
  • Over the course of their lifetime, 28% of U.S. youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized.
  • Children are most vulnerable to abuse between the ages of seven and 13.
  • According to a 2003 National Institute of Justice report, three out of four adolescents who have been sexually assaulted were victimized by someone they knew well.
  • A study conducted in 1986 found that 63% of women who had suffered sexual abuse by a family member also reported a rape or attempted rape after the age of 14.
  • Children who had an experience of rape or attempted rape in their adolescent years were 13.7 times more likely to experience rape or attempted rape in their first year of college.
  • A child who is the victim of prolonged sexual abuse usually develops low self-esteem, a feeling of worthlessness, and an abnormal or distorted view of sex. The child may become withdrawn and mistrustful of adults, and can become suicidal.
  • Children who do not live with both parents as well as children living in homes marked by parental discord, divorce, or domestic violence, have a higher risk of being sexually abused.

What is Child Sexual Abuse (CSA)?

Additionally, Dordulian Law Group’s non-profit partner organization, RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), offers the following child sexual abuse statistics:

  • Every nine minutes, child protective services substantiates or finds evidence for a claim of sexual abuse.
  • In Fiscal Year 2016 alone, Child Protective Services agencies either substantiated or found strong evidence to indicate that 57,329 children were victims of sexual abuse.
  • One in 9 girls and one in 53 boys under the age of 18 experience sexual abuse or assault at the hands of an adult.
  • 82% of all victims under 18 are female.
  • Females ages 16-19 are four times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.

The effects of child sexual abuse can be long-lasting and affect the victim’s mental health, according to RAINN. In fact, survivors of childhood sexual abuse are more likely than non-survivors to experience the following mental health challenges:

  • About four times more likely to develop symptoms of drug abuse
  • About four times more likely to experience PTSD as adults
  • About three times more likely to experience a major depressive episode as adults

How Much Money is Spent on Child Sexual Abuse Prevention?

Elizabeth L. Letourneau, Ph.D., a professor in the department of mental health and director of the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, penned an op-ed for The Hill offering some troubling figures demonstrating how much money is spent (or underspent) on preventing child sexual abuse.

According to Letourneau:

  • Child sexual abuse costs the U.S. billions per year for incarceration.
  • For every $3,125 we spend in punishment, however, we only spend $1 in prevention research.
  • Since 2019, the U.S. federal government has increased its investment in child sexual abuse prevention research from essentially $0 to $2 million.
  • Congress allocated $2 million for child sexual abuse prevention research for Fiscal Year 2022, (an increase of $500,000 from 2021).
  • The U.S. economic burden of child sexual abuse was $9.3 billion in 2015, costing each victim more than $280,000 in lost earnings and other economic impacts over their lifetime.

In a paper published in the journal Sexual Abuse on March 23 – entitled No Check We Won’t Write: A Report on the High Cost of Sex Offender Incarceration – Letourneau and her colleagues found that the U.S. spends an estimated $5.4 billion to incarcerate about 144,453 people for sex crimes against children each year. Furthermore, the government stands to spend nearly $49 billion to keep these sexual predators incarcerated until their projected release dates.

That $49 billion figure reportedly includes:

  • $5 billion for federal prisoners
  • $33 billion for state prisoners
  • $10.7 billion for inmates in sex offender civil commitment facilities

According to Letourneau, most people incarcerated for sex crimes against children remain imprisoned for about eight years. Accordingly, this means that during the same length of time as their $50 billion incarceration the federal government will spend only $16 million on child sexual prevention research.

In other words, for every $1 the U.S. government spends in prevention research, almost $4,200 is spent in punishment.

Child sexual abuse is indisputably a criminal justice problem as well as a public health problem. We need both reactive and preventive solutions to get out in front of this crisis,” Letourneau wrote in The Hill.

That said, Letourneau points to some small measures of progress in the effort to prevent child sexual abuse. For example:

The Fiscal Year 2020 and 2021 funding – which was allocated to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – supports five U.S. research teams evaluating child sexual abuse prevention strategies. Said teams are engaged in various types of programs:

  • Online
  • School-based
  • Community-based

However, as Letourneau notes, even with the $2 million in federal funding for child sexual abuse prevention, much more needs to be done in order to effect change.

One such step occurred last April, when Congressman Frank Mrvan of Indiana led a letter to the House Appropriations Committee signed by 31 members of Congress in support of increasing child sexual abuse prevention research funding to the goal amount of $10 million.

According to Letourneau, “Reaching $10 million in annual prevention funding would allow for a critical mass of research to flourish across the U.S., helping ensure that we develop an array of effective prevention strategies that work across our diverse country.

“We all want American children to grow up free from abuse. Increasing the federal budget for child sexual abuse prevention research to $10 million annually puts us closer to realizing this goal,” she added.

What is California AB 218 and How Does it Impact Child Sex Abuse Survivors?

Assembly Bill 218 (AB 218), which took effect on January 1, 2020, is legislation aimed at offering survivors of childhood sexual abuse an opportunity to pursue financial compensation for past crimes. The California statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse crimes is temporarily paused under AB 218, allowing all survivors of childhood sexual abuse or assault to file civil claims/lawsuits seeking justice until December 31, 2022.

However, as of January 1, 2023, the standard statute of limitations will resume, and survivors who did not file claims will likely be left without any legal recourse.

For additional information on California AB 218 and how it offers survivors of childhood sexual abuse an unprecedented opportunity at justice, please visit our recent blog post.

What Damages May be Recovered in an AB 218 Child Sex Abuse Lawsuit?

The specific damages that may be recovered in a childhood sexual abuse case will depend on the unique circumstances of a survivor’s claim.

Some common damages that may be obtained via a child sex abuse civil lawsuit include:

  • Emotional trauma
  • Psychological harm
  • Hospital, medical, or counseling/therapy expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages

Additionally, California AB 218 features a treble damages clause allowing the courts latitude to triple financial damages awards in cases where cover-ups are proven.

For example, if you are a sexual abuse survivor who was victimized through a systemic cover-up (at either an individual or institutional level), and that wrongdoing was proved in court, a $10 million damages award could theoretically be increased to $130 million under the AB 218 treble damages clause.

The treble damages clause included in AB 218 is an effort to severely punish bad actors who participated in systemic cover-ups. Cover-ups often took place over the course of several decades in organizations including the Boy Scouts of America and Catholic Church, and have consequently impacted countless innocent survivors. Nevertheless, AB 218 offers all victims an opportunity at justice.

Free Los Angeles, California, Child Sexual Abuse Lawyer Consultation

Dordulian Law Group (DLG) is a leading California-based firm with decades of experience successfully handling childhood sexual abuse claims. We help survivors throughout California and across the United States and offer a unique type of legal representation which includes a four-tiered team of professionals known as the SAJE Team.

Led by former sex crimes prosecutor and Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County, Sam Dordulian, DLG’s experienced child sexual abuse lawyers have helped countless survivors secure maximum financial damages awards.

Our Sexual Assault Justice Experts are here to help survivors secure justice. Contact our top-rated attorneys online or by phone for a free consultation today.

Some of our recent sex crime civil lawsuit victories include:

For a free, confidential, and no obligation consultation regarding your childhood sexual abuse civil claim, contact a member of DLG’s SAJE Team today at 818-322-4056. Our child sex crime attorneys have helped victims recover more than $100,000,000 in settlements and verdicts while maintaining a 98% success record.


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