Parents and the State: Joining Forces to Report Incest and Support Its Victims

As many as 60,000 to 100,000 children each year become victims of child sexual abuse in this country, according to some estimates. These children typically suffer long-lasting effects of the abuse. This Note, in focusing on (step)father-daughter incest, looks at the predominance of males as perpetrators, daughters as victims, and mothers as non-abusers. The Note examines the dynamics within incestuous families and the characteristics common to each member in these families. It particularly considers the position of mothers in these families, who often are subservient to and financially dependent on the incest perpetrator. This Note then discusses how these mothers’ position often precludes them from protecting their daughters. This Note concludes, however, that mothers, armed with comprehensive and adequate support from the state, can be in the best position to protect their children from continuing abuse.