Illinois DCFS reports increase in sex abuse around the state - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Illinois DCFS reports increase in sex abuse around the state

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SPRINGFIELD (WREX) -

According to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, reports of sex abuse increased by six percent in the 101 counties outside of Cook last year.

The data compares July 1, 2012 to November 30, 2012 to the same period in 2011. The increase in reports is significant because 67 counties already had rates higher than the state average, and 24 counties had rates more than twice the state average.

Counties with rates over twice the state average (seven victims per 10,000 children) include Henderson, Knox, Rock Island, Clark, Crawford, Edgar, Mason, Pike, Sangamon, Schuyler, Bond, Calhoun, Macoupin, Alexander, Clay, Hardin, Johnson, Massac, Perry, Richland, Saline, Wabash, Wayne, and White.

Stephenson and Carroll counties had a rate of 12 to 14 victims per 10,000 children; Winnebago and JoDaviess counties had a rate of nine to 11 victims per 10,000 children; and DeKalb, Lee, and Whiteside counties had a rate of six to eight victims per 10,000 children. Boone and Ogle counties had the lowest local rates, with zero to five victims per 10,000 children.

During the last fiscal year, there were 2,208 indicated sex abuse victims in the state. Demographics related to those victims were:

  • 65 percent were from outside Cook County
  • 72 percent were under the age of 14
  • 58 percent were white
  • Girls accounted for the majority of the victims, but one in five victims were boys

There were 1,965 indicated sex abuse perpetrators during the last fiscal year. Demographics related to those individuals were:

  • 53 percent were family members, including: uncles and aunts, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, step-fathers and step-mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers
  • 60 percent of abusers were white
  • 68 percent of abusers were under the age of 40
  • Men were the majority of the perpetrators, but one in 13 perpetrators were women

One in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before they reach the age of 18, but family members, friends, and neighbors frequently do not report it to Illinois' Child Abuse Hotline. Eighty-two percent of reports come from professionals required by law to report abuse and neglect.

"The department offers vital counseling and other supportive services, primarily through Child Advocacy Centers across the state, and DCFS puts safeguards into place so that less than three percent of alleged victims need to be removed from the home," DCFS Spokesperson Dave Clarkin says. "Family members, friends, and neighbors have a social responsibility to call our Child Abuse Hotline at 800-25-ABUSE whenever they suspect a child has been harmed or is at risk of harm from abuse or neglect. Children shouldn't have to wait to get help until a 911 call brings police or an ambulance, or until they are old enough to attend school."

Some signs of sexual abuse parents and friends can look out for include:

  • Sudden change in behavior or personality, including regressing to earlier behaviors such as bed-wetting or thumb-sucking, nightmares, or difficulty sleeping
  • Depression, anxiety, or withdrawal from family, friends, or activities
  • Aggressiveness, school problems or self-destructive behavior such as cutting themselves, eating disorders, alcohol, or drug use
  • Acting out sexually or showing sexual knowledge that is not age appropriate
  • An older, more dominant child, teenager and/or adult who seems to want to spend time alone with your child

Victims often have feelings of guilt or betrayal, and are often unable to report abuse themselves, and may even deny it when confronted. Clarkin advises parents and other adults to learn the signs of abuse and trust their instincts.

If you suspect a child is being abused or is in harms way, call the Child Abuse Hotline at 800-25-ABUSE.

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