A North Carolina man was arrested Dec. 20 for sexually assaulting a child.
Darrell Lee Sisk, 47, turned himself in to Alamance County deputies and was charged with indecent liberties with a child, according to WGHP.
A warrant has been out for Sisk's arrest since July 10, when police officials received information that the 47-year-old had allegedly sexual assaulted a minor. Police have yet to release information regarding the victim's age.
Sisk was placed in the Alamance County Detention Center with bail set at $50,000. He expected in court on Dec. 21.
This is only one of the tens of thousands of child sexual assaults that occur each year. From 2009-2013, Child Protective Services agencies estimated that 63,000 children a year were victims of sexual abuse. Additionally, 1 in 9 girls and 1 in 53 boys under the age of 18 experience sexual abuse at the hands of an adult, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.
Most often, the perpetrator is a parent. In 93 percent of cases, victims said they knew their abuser.
Although these numbers may seem high, a report in The New York Times found the rate of child sexual abuse is on the decline from the 1990s. Cases of sexual abuse against minors have decreased 60 percent from 1992 to 2010.
"We’re at a bit of a watershed moment,” said Teresa Huizar, executive director of the nonprofit National Children's Alliance, which provides support and training to child advocacy centers across the country.
David Finkelhor, the leading expert on the subject, who has been tracking the trend, doesn't have a precise explanation for the declining rates. He speculates that greater public awareness has led to more prevention efforts and better training of educators, police officers and child advocacy workers.
While the decline has been accepted by many researchers, the numbers of abuse cases is still cause for concern.
"The child abuse field has always been one that felt like there was not enough public policy attention, so the narrative reflected that," said Mark Chaffin, a pediatrics professor at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. "It’s at crisis proportions; it’s getting worse every year; it’s an epidemic. So when people hear that the rates are going down, it really is sort of a challenge."
Child advocates then must celebrate the progress, but also convince the public their work is far from over.
"It is very risky to suggest that the problem you’re involved with has gotten smaller," said Lucy Berliner, director of Seattle's Harborview Center for Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress.
"What we’ve arrived at is celebrating the success and using that to argue that the investments that government has made have been very worthwhile."