Florida child sexual abuse attorneys and advocates who work to protect victims of abuse know the costs of such harm go far beyond what’s typically reported. Child sexual abuse is a billion-dollar drain on Florida’s economy. It’s cost is immeasurable to the health, welfare and well-being of Florida’s children who are victims of sexual abuse and physical abuse.
A recent study, from child sexual abuse awareness organization Lauren’s Kids, found that 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys have experienced or will experience child sexual abuse (CSA). The numbers are far too high, and society must do far more to help lower the numbers – and protect children.
According to the report, “children are most vulnerable to sexual abuse between the ages of 7 and 13, yet most cases of child sexual abuse go unreported.” In Florida alone in 2012, 67,087 cases of child abuse and maltreatment were investigated. It is believed that countless more instances of such abuse were unreported. For the state’s 205,000 third graders alone, for example, upward of 31,000 will become victims.
The figure is astronomical, heartbreaking and economically devastating for victims and their families.
Beyond the horrors of the abuse itself, the white paper uncovered billions of dollars in costs related to with abuse, including lost productivity and diminished quality of life of the victims themselves. Among the findings:
• Between upward of 600,000 Florida children, or about 15% of kids statewide, are or will become victims of sexual abuse before turning 18.
• Victims of child sexual abuse, according to prior reports, will lose between $210,012 and $241,600 in earnings and related costs over their lifetimes. Statewide, this amounts to an annual loss of between $952 million and $1.58 billion for these children and their families, and between $76.6 billion and $125.2 billion in lost earnings and related costs over the victims’ lifetimes.
Atop the cost projections for the victims themselves, the report revealed even higher costs related to the “cycles of abuse,” including crime, incarceration and greater utilization of other social services. For example, female victims of sexual abuse comprise between 25% and 35% of all incarcerated adult females. Cost per inmate: $17,338, or $12 million to $16 million spent annually by Florida to incarcerate women who were victimized as youths.
“In other words, the costs presented here are limited to selected cohorts of Florida children; are shouldered mostly by the individuals themselves; and do not account for the greater societal costs that result from child sexual abuse,” the report noted.
The numbers provide a stark and painful reminder of the the real costs of childhood sexual abuse. The report reveals dollar costs associated with child sexual abuse. Yet, we can never forget the unseen lifetime of emotional horrors endured by the victims. Together, they show how individual victims and society as a whole lose from such abuse – and have much to gain by helping prevent it.