The current media frenzy around the Duggar family has brought the issue of child sexual abuse into the light. A new survey of over a thousand Floridians shows that while many are affected by abuse, more have a poor understanding of the problem.
"We know that 95 percent of sexual abuse is preventable with education and awareness" says Lauren Book, the founder of the Lauren’s Kids Foundation, a group whose stated mission is educating people in Florida about child sexual abuse and helping survivors heal with guidance and support. "According to the (survey results), one in five adults do not know that everyone is required under Florida law to report suspected cases of child abuse."
The findings of the survey were released on a conference call Thursday morning. Dr. Karen Cyphers is Vice President of Research and Policy for the Sachs Media Group, the company that conducted the survey. She says many people wrongly assume that only professionals like teachers or doctors are required to report suspected cases of abuse. "The goal of this pole was to better understand experiences, concerns and attitudes of Floridians regarding this difficult topic".
The survey was conducted this April, long before the current Duggar scandal started a nationwide conversation about child sexual abuse. One of the core questions on the survey asked if the person was sexually abused before age 18. The answer was yes for 30 percent of women and 15 percent of men. The people who answered no were then given the legal definition of child sexual abuse, and then asked the same question again. About one in ten of those people changed their answer to yes.
Other results showed that one in three Florida women and one in seven Florida men report that, regardless of age, their first sexual experienced was forced. 15 percent of Florida parents believe their child has been subjected to some form of sexual abuse, and only one in five victims say they have received counseling regarding their abuse. Lauren Book of Lauren’s Kids Foundation says the numbers are a call to action. "I'm hopeful that sharing this information with the public will show the urgent and very important need for continued education efforts surrounding child sexual abuse".