Hastert Case and Child Sex Abuse Myths

Hastert Case and Child Sex Abuse Myths

If you live in the Chicago area, you have probably seen the name Dennis Hastert in the news. The former House Speaker was sentenced to over a year in prison in the hush money case which included accusations that he sexually abused teenagers while coaching high school wrestling. The Hastert case, along with many others, shatters common myths about child sex abuse.

Myth: He looks normal and acts normal, so he can’t be a child molester.
Sex offenders are knowledgeable about the importance of their public image, and can hide their private behaviors from their friends, neighbors, colleagues, and even their own family members.

Myth: Abused children always tell! (My kids know they’re supposed to tell!)
Children often fail to disclose their abuse. Children who have been victims of sexual assault often have extreme difficulty in disclosing their victimization.

Myth: The Victim is Always a Girl.
Just as women can be sex offenders, boys may be victims of abuse. Boys are aware at an early age of the social stigma attached to sexual assault by another male, and fear appearing weak to others. All of these attitudes make male child victims less likely to tell of their abuse.

Myth: Stranger Danger.
90% of all reported cases of child molestation involve a child and a known perpetrator. Abusers can be parents, step-parents, uncles, aunts, step-siblings, babysitters, tutors, coaches, and family friends.

Myth: Child Sexual Abuse is a cultural or socioeconomic problem.
Sexual abuse crosses all socio-economic, neighborhood, race and class barriers. It happens in large and small families; in cities and in rural areas; in wealthy and lower income neighborhoods; and in homes, schools, churches, and businesses.


More and more child sex abuse cases are making headlines in today’s media. It is up to us to educate ourselves and our children on what to do if someone tries to touch them inappropriately. Find resources on how to talk to your children here or attend the Body Safety Workshop this Saturday. 

Myths adopted from One With Courage: One with Courage is a national initiative centered around the courage it takes to talk about child sexual abuse and the unique role children’s advocacy centers play in providing comprehensive, coordinated and compassionate services to child victims of abuse.


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