Most abused and neglected children never come to the attention of the government. This is especially true for sexually abused and neglected children, who more than likely have no signs of physical harm. In sexual abuse cases, feelings of secrecy and shame from children, and adults aware of the abuse, keep them from coming forward. Therefore, official government statistics do not indicate actual rates of child abuse in the United States.
?Government statistics are based on cases that were: ? Reported to Social Services Agencies ? Investigated by Child Protection Services ? Sufficient enough to meet the definition of ?abuse? or neglect? (PCA) ?Terms like ?substantiated cases? (United States) and ?registered children? (England) refer to these cases. Basically, government reports are only the tip on the iceberg.? (PCA) The Department of Health and Human Services, or the HHS, reported that child abuse and neglect in the United States nearly doubled during the seven years between 1986 and 1993.
According to the HHS study, the number of total child maltreatment cases that were investigated remained steady from 1986 to 1993; however, the percentage of cases investigated fell dramatically. "It is shameful and startling to see that so many more children are in danger and that proportionately fewer incidents are investigated," HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala said. "Now states, schools, health care professionals -- all of us -- must commit ourselves to investigating and preventing child abuse with far greater effectiveness than we have seen in the past." Shalala said, "We are giving states more flexibility, demanding more accountability and focusing on the only bottom line that matters: results." In addition to distorting children's thoughts, abuse also forces children into a position of having to ?hide the family secret?. This prevents children from having relationships and has life-long effects.