One-third of abuse victimization is child-on-child abuse

A group of boys dunk a ball on a boy's head while others scream and record with their phones

About 1/3 of all Susie’s Place cases occur between people who are both under the age of 18, which means that child-on-child sexual abuse is an uncomfortable and difficult reality that must be addressed.

21% of people reported to have abused a child nationally are under 18

Nationally at Child Advocacy Centers in 2022, 21% of people alleged to have abused a child were themselves children. 14% of those were teenagers, meaning the vast majority of child-on-child abuse comes from pre-teens. Because these cases involved a CAC, they are the most severe kinds of abuse involving law enforcement, not “just schoolyard bullying.”

Some of this stems from children who are being abused by other adults and then develop problematic sexual behaviors. The good news is that with treatment, mentorship, and guidance, kids can learn to stop these harmful behaviors. 98% never go on to hurt another child.

Perpetrators of child abuse know the victim more than 90% of the time

Child victims of sexual abuse or assault know the people hurting them. Over 70% of the time this is at the hands of a parent or caregiver. But the other 30% of the time comes from other known adults and kids.

“Stranger danger” is rarely ever the reason for child abuse, though it does happen in less than 5% of known cases. 

Preventing child-on-child abuse starts with conversations and parents

Children abuse other children verbally, physically, and sexually when those behaviors are modeled to them, usually by other adults they know. The most common is bullying, including online harassment

But these behaviors can and do escalate to physical abuse in person, including hitting, verbal abuse, and other physical harm. 

Correct inappropriate behavior when you spot it

If you hear or see a child you’re caring or responsible for, correct the abuse and continue to model good behavior.

In most cases, kids don’t intend to cause harm to other kids, but are merely acting on an impulse or modeled behavior.

Discuss safe sex at an early, appropriate age

Children exposed to sexual abuse or images, including pornography, are themselves being abused but may not know a crime is being committed. 

The behavior they see and experience can harm others when they don’t know what constitutes a sex act or explicit material.

Talk with your kids about dating, violence, and respect

Your kids are likely to see or experience conversations with peers that may indicate someone is at risk of abuse. Talk to your kids about anxiety and depression, how to treat others, and how to respect other people’s body boundaries.

If you think a child has been abusing your child or another child, ask them, “Tell me what happened.” Or, “Has anyone been hurting you?” 

A child abusing another child is likely being abused, too, and needs help. Indiana law requires everyone to report a suspicion of abuse to 911 or the Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-800-5556.

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