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Clergy Sex Abuse Statistics

The allegations of child sexual abuse detailed in the Pennsylvania grand jury report paint a horrifying picture of assault, abuse of power, and conspiracy to hide the truth. Many question how something like this could happen in such a prominent institution.

Survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy members across the country number in the thousands. The Pennsylvania report is an extensive account of abuse within the church that covers decades of corruption. However, the number of victims and abusers is likely much higher than what has been reported to date.

Age Range of Abused Children

Overall, statistics show that about one in five girls, and one in 20 boys are victims of childhood sexual abuse. For male sexual abuse victims, eight percent are between the ages of 12 and 17, and those under age 12 make up 26 percent. One in five girls is a victim of child sex abuse, and one in nine experience abuse under the age of 18. Twenty percent of abused children are under the age of eight when abused. The most vulnerable age group is between the ages of seven and 13.

Prevalence of Abuse

It is difficult to determine exactly how widespread child sex abuse is in the Catholic church community. These crimes are often underreported due to shame and fear experienced by the victims. Lost records of abuse accounts may also factor into the lack of clarity in calibrating the correct number of victims and perpetrators. The privacy of child victims also contributes to keeping statistics under wraps as protection for abused children.

The grand jury report presents more evidence indicating sexual abuse prevalence by clergy members but does not account for every instance and victim. According to experts who examined the report, it is estimated that over a span of decades, at least 1,000 children experienced sexual abuse by a priest or clergy member in six Pennsylvania dioceses.

Consequences for Sexual Abuse Victims

Child sexual abuse leaves consequences for victims that may stretch beyond their youth and adversely affect their adult lives. Addiction, depression and suicidal tendencies, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), eating and sleep disorders, academic difficulties, unhealthy sexual relationships and behavior, teen pregnancy, and criminal activity may result from abuse.

Substance Abuse: Children who were sexually abused are four times more likely to engage in substance abuse. Seventy percent of male victims sought psychological treatment for substance abuse.

Academic Difficulties: Thirty-nine percent of female sexual abuse victims have academic difficulties. Forty-eight percent received below-average grades in school, and over 25 percent saw a drop in their grades after the abuse occurred.

Depression/Suicide: Childhood sexual abuse survivors are twice as likely to attempt suicide. It is four times more likely for adult survivors to experience PTSD, and they are three times more likely to be diagnosed with depression.

Pennsylvania Clergy Abuse Lawyers at Williams Cedar Stand Up for Sex Abuse Survivors’ Rights

If you or a loved one experienced sexual abuse by a clergy member, the Pennsylvania clergy abuse lawyers at Williams Cedar will provide a voice for you, so that you can begin the healing process. Please call 215-557-0099 or contact us online to schedule a free and confidential consultation. We serve clients throughout Pennsylvania from our offices in Philadelphia and Haddonfield, New Jersey.

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