Stranger danger is the belief that someone unknown to the child and family (aka “an adult male stranger”) will be the one to perpetrate the abuse. However, this belief is misguided and can in fact be harmful as the large majority of those of individuals who abuse children are known to them. In fact, it is estimated that only 7% of all child abuse is perpetrated by a stranger. One report found that of children who were sexually abused:

34% were sexually abused by a family member

59% were sexually abused by someone known to them

7% were sexually abused by a stranger

Furthermore, focusing on stranger danger neglects to include the fact that one third of all sex crimes against minors are perpetrated by another minor and that up to 12% of individuals report that they were sexually abused by a woman.

By basing our prevention strategies upon antiquated stereotypes of who a perpetrator is (i.e. the adult male stranger in the white van) – we put our children at risk.


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