Know the Facts: Sexual Child Abuse

Who fall victims to sexual abuse?

Children and Adults. People through all walks of life from all over the world. Poor, Rich, Black, White, Tall, Short….

Who are the perpetrators of child Abuse?

  • 60% of abusers are family friends (babysitters, neighbours, childcare providers or friends of the family)
  • 30% of abusers are their own family.
  • And 10% are strangers. -Most people think it is just strangers you have to watch out for, but 90% of abusers are people the victim knows.
  • Not all perpetrators are adults. It is an estimated 23% of abusers are under the age of 18.
  • Children and Adults. People through all walks of life from all over the world. Poor, Rich, Black, White, Tall, Short….

How often is Sexual Child Abuse occurring?

Some research has estimated that approximately 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18. However, accurate statistics on the prevalence of sexual abuse of children and adolescents are difficult to collect because not all abuse is reported.

What is the risk and Factors involved?


  • Older children tend to be at greater risk for sexual abuse
  • 0-3 year olds: 10% of victims
  • 4-7 year olds: 28.4% of victims
  • 8-11 year olds: 25% of victims
  • 12 and older: 35.9% of victims


  • Girls tend to be at greater risk of sexual victimization than boys.
  • However, boys are more likely to be victimized by a perpetrator outside the family than girls.


  • Children with disabilities are at elevated risk of abuse, particularly, if the disability impairs their perceived credibility, e.g., blindness, deafness, and mental retardation.

Prior history of victimization

  • Those with a prior history of sexual victimization are extremely likely to be revictimized. Some research estimates an increased risk of over 1000%.

Family characteristics

  • Absence of one or both parents is a risk factor

— Some research found that children living with only one biological parent at twice the risk of sexual victimization.

— Children living without both biological parents were at three times the risk of sexual victimization.

  • Older children from father-only families were also at increased risk of sexual victimization compared to other children.
  • Presence of a stepfather in the home doubled the risk of sexual victimization for girls.

Parental characteristics associated with increased risk

Researchers have found that parents with a history of childhood sexual victimization are at an estimated risk 10 times greater for having a sexually abused child

  • Multiple caretakers for the child
  • Caretaker or parent who has multiple lovers
  • Drug and/or alcohol abuse
  • Stress associated with poverty
  • Social isolation and family secrecy
  • Child with poor self-esteem or other vulnerable state
  • History of abuse among other family members (e.g., siblings, cousins)
  • Unsatisfactory marriage or intimate partner violence for the mother
  • Parents leaving child at home alone without adequate supervision

These shocking statistics come from recent studies on the epidemic of sexual assaults that plagues our society today.

Worried about a child?

Contact trained counsellors helpline for 24/7 help, advice and support.

0808 800 5000


Sources: (For more information about Child Sexual Abuse, please visit the American Psycological Association at Sources: Russell, D.E.H. and Bolen, R.M., 2000. The Epidemic of Rape and Child Sexual Abuse in the United States. Newbury Park, California: Sage Publications. Snyder, H.N., U. S. Department of Justice Statistics, 2000. Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement: Victim, Incident, and Offender Characteristics. Center for Sex Offender Management, (2001). Recidivism of Sex Offenders, Full Report and Statistics.

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