Despite scandal, US makes headway vs. sex abuse

By

Published:

 

NEW YORK (AP) -- Amid the furor over the Penn State sex abuse scandal, it's an easily overshadowed fact: The United States has made huge strides over the past 20 years in reducing the prevalence of child sex abuse.

One authoritative national report shows incidents of child sex abuse down more than 55 percent since 1992; another documents a 38 percent drop between 1993 and 2006. Reasons include vigorous efforts by police and prosecutors, growing public awareness, and better screening of people who deal regularly with children.

Child-protection advocates aren't ready to celebrate, knowing that tens of thousands of children continue to be sexually abused each year. But some advocates suggest the progress should be highlighted more than it has been, and hope the Penn State scandal will be a catalyst for new initiatives.