It's More Than Stranger Danger | The STAR Center

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It's More Than Just Stranger Danger


The Second National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrown-away Children classified kidnappings as either family or non-family abductions. 

  • In 1999, there were an estimated 115 "stereotypical kidnappings," defined as abductions perpetrated by a stranger or slight acquaintance and involving a child who was transported more than 50 miles and detained overnight, held for ransom or with the intent to keep the child permanently, or killed.
  • In 1999, there were an estimated 58,200 child victims of non-family abductions, defined more broadly to include all non-family perpetrators (including friends and acquaintances as well as strangers) and crimes involving lesser amounts of forced movement or detention in addition to the more serious crimes entailed in stereotypical kidnapping

In 1999, there were an estimated 203,900 child victims of family abductions, of which 43% were not considered missing by their caretaker because they knew their child's whereabouts or were not concerned by the circumstances.

Sources: Heather Hammer, David Finkelhor & Andrea J. Sedlak (2002). Children Abducted by Family Members: National Estimates and Characteristics. Juvenile Justice Bulletin-NCJ196466, 1-12. Order #MC17
David Finkelhor, Heather Hammer and Andrea J. Sedlak (2002). Nonfamily Abducted Children: National Estimates and Characteristics. Juvenile Justice Bulletin-NCJ196467, 1-16. Order #MC19

Child Sexual Abuse

Most sexual abusers are not strangers or pedophiles. Numerous studies show 35-40% of perpetrators who sexually abuse children are juveniles themselves.

  • Adult retrospective studies show that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men were sexually abused before the age of 18 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2006). This means there are more than 42 million adult survivors of child sexual abuse in the U.S.
  • The primary reason that the public is not sufficiently aware of child sexual abuse as a problem is that 73% of child victims do not tell anyone about the abuse for at least a year. 45% of victims do not tell anyone for at least 5 years. Some never disclose (Smith et al., 2000; Broman-Fulks et al., 2007).
  • Nearly 70% of all reported sexual assaults (including assaults on adults) occur to children ages 17 and younger (Snyder, 2000).
  • Youth have higher rates of sexual assault victimization than adults. In 2000, the sexual assault victimization rate for youths 12 to 17 was 2.3 times higher than for adults (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2000).
  • Men perpetrate most sexual abuse and sex crimes.
  • Sex offenders against children tend to be juveniles or young adults under the age of 30.
  • Most sexual abuse and sex crimes are committed by people who know the victims.
  • Acquaintances are most often the perpetrators, followed by family members and then strangers.

Sources: E. Douglas & D. Finkelhor, Childhood Sexual Abuse Fact Sheet, Crimes Against Children Research Center (2005); Darkness to Light,