Dispelling Myths About Child Abuse

Posted on Mar 21st 2022


Dispelling Myths About Child Abuse

Child abuse is an uncomfortable topic that many people avoid discussing. As a result, there are several misconceptions surrounding the topic. We encourage you to become a better advocate for the children in your community by helping dispel some of the common the myths of child abuse. Keep reading to uncover the real truths about child abuse:

Myth: Strangers are the most dangerous threat to children.

For an overwhelming majority of cases, children personally know their abuser. According to the United States Children’s Bureau, 90.6% of child abuse victims in 2020 were maltreated by one or both parents. 1 While strangers can pose a threat to children, close family and friends are the most likely to be abusers. Because many children live with their abusers, it is essential to offer them a safe place where their voice is heard.

child abuse in our community

Myth: Children often lie or make up stories about abuse.

Children rarely make false allegations about abuse. Less than 1 out of 10 cases include false allegations from children. 2 Additionally, research shows that most child victims delay or never report abuse. If a child is willing to take the brave step and speak up about abuse, it is critical that they have the support of attentive, trusting adults.

Myth: When children are abused at a young age and have little memory of the experience, the abuse will have limited effects on their life.

The first few years of life are vital to brain development. Child abuse at a young age can impact emotional, cognitive, and physical well-being into adulthood. Research shows that early adverse experiences can result in smaller brain volume and alteration of the brain.3 Additionally, adverse childhood experiences lead to emotional challenges, such as depression, and physical challenges, such as heart disease, later in life. 4 Even if a child has no memory of the experience, child abuse at a young age can have drastic effects on their life in adulthood. Early intervention plays a crucial role in reversing the negative effects of abuse.

child abuse in our community

Myth: Physical and sexual abuse are the most prevalent forms of child abuse.

While physical and sexual abuse cases are widespread, 76% of child abuse cases include neglect, a failure to provide for a child’s basic needs of food, shelter, education, and emotional support. 1 Cases of neglect can look like parents leaving toddlers at home alone overnight, giving children access to alcohol or drugs, or preventing children from having access to education. Just as bruises can be a sign of abuse, children not attending school or appearing malnourished can also be signs of abuse.

By educating ourselves and our communities about the truths of child abuse, we can better care for the children around us. To serve those children, the Friends supports the CJC in providing children a safe, trusting place to talk and resources that lessen the effects of abuse in their lives. You can help support this work by donating today!


  1. Child maltreatment 2020 - Acf.hhs.gov. (n.d.). https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/documents/cb/cm2020.pdf
  2. Mikkelsen, E. J., Gutheil, T. G., & Emens, M. (1992). False sexual-abuse allegations by children and adolescents: Contextual factors and clinical subtypes. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 46(4), 556-570.
  3. Bick, J., Nelson, C. Early Adverse Experiences and the Developing Brain. Neuropsychopharmacol 41, 177–196 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/npp.2015.252
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, April 6). Preventing adverse childhood experiences |violence prevention|injury Center|CDC. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/aces/fastfact.html