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(AP) - Sexual abuse of children in the United States has been declining, federal statistics indicate. In 2011, 61,472 cases of sexual abuse of children were reported, nearly 2,000 fewer than the previous year and continuing a drop from more than 150,000 in 1992, according to an annual report of child abuse statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

More public education efforts about the crime provide the main lines of defense, said David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire.

It's important to teach adults the seriousness of sexual abuse of children and the long-lasting damage it can do to the child, he said. And for children, use preventive education to teach them that if someone touches them inappropriately, or takes images of them, they shouldn't be afraid to speak up about it: "We will be there for you."

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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