Empathy seemed to pour from every corner of the city earlier this month when an 11-year-old girl was raped on her way to school in Kensington.

But the massive media attention and the overwhelming support the victim and her family received from city officials and the public was something of a rarity.

Statistics show that hundreds of youngsters are raped in the city every year, but few of those cases ever generate headlines.

Four hundred juveniles were among the city's 1,038 rape victims last year, according to the Police Department.

Both figures represent an increase from previous years.

In 2007, 956 rapes were reported in the city, including 370 juveniles. In 2006, 348 juveniles were among the 960 rape victims, according to police.

"The media tends to touch more on homicides, but I don't think there's anything more devastating than sexual assault," said Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey.

Through March, 219 rapes were reported for the year, including 77 juveniles.

Capt. John Darby, who has run the police Special Victims Unit for seven years, said most of the victims his detectives encounter are young.

"Across the whole gamut, from indecent exposure to indecent assault to rape, we probably run 65 percent to 67 percent that are juveniles," Darby said.

In many cases, investigators find that juveniles - especially young children - are abused by their own family members.

For every case that makes the news, there are hundreds that don't. "You guys only see the high-profile cases. The reality is, we handle anywhere from 5,000 to 6,000 cases in SVU every year," Darby said..

The investigations, including a hodge-podge of composite sketches, DNA evidence and terrible memories, do yield results.

Since 2006, SVU has cleared more than 65 percent of their cases. Thus far this year, they've cleared more than 73 percent. *