Despite a series of high-profile cases, sex crimes against children have dropped dramatically in the last decade, reports USA Today. Recent research shows doctors can better predict which offenders may strike again. “There’s a success story here,” says Roxanne Lieb of Washington state’s Institute for Public Policy. She sees a “trickle-down effect” as famous cases raise public awareness and legislatures toughen policy. Headline-grabbing cases tend to be anomalies; kids are rarely abused by strangers, and even less often killed.
“It’s not the creepy guy who moves in next door you need to be most concerned about, but family, friends – people who have access to your children on a regular basis,” says Pamela Schultz, author of Not Monsters: Analyzing the Stories of Child Molesters. Only a tiny fraction of abuse cases end in murder, says David Finkelhor of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire. Of the 60,000 to 70,000 arrests each year for sex crimes against children, about 40 to 50 involve homicide.