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A fourfold increase in the number of children reported to be victims of sexual abuse was noted after a Child Sexual Abuse bill was passed into law in Tennessee in 1985. The mean age of the children was 9 years, (range 0-18) and the distribution failed to identify any particular age group to be at increased risk. Abuse rates were higher for girls than for boys, and for black children compared with Caucasians. The perpetrator was a member of the victim's family in more than half of all reported incidents, and in over 80% of the cases the perpetrator knew the child prior to the abuse. Our data indicate that mandatory reporting coupled with increased public and physician awareness, can significantly improve the number of victims identified and reported to child protective agencies.
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