Approximately 30% of sexual assault cases are reported to authorities.
39.3% of cases of maltreatment of children in 2012 were classified as sexual abuse. 962,939 cases of child sexual abuse were reported in 2012.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Criminal Victimization Survey, in 2012, there were 346,830 reported rapes or sexual assaults of persons 12 years or older.
In 2010, 12% of rapes and sexual assaults involved a weapon.
In 2010, 25% of the female victims of rape/sexual assault were victimized by strangers.
According to “Have Sexual Abuse and Physical Abuse Declined Since the 1990s?” an article released by the Crimes Against Children Research Center in 2012:
There was a 56% decline in physical abuse and a 62% decline in sexual abuse from 1992 to 2010.
Despite some skepticism of reporting methods by various agencies, declines in child physical and sexual abuse since the 1990s, as reported to National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS), reflect a true decline in prevalence.
The decline in sexual abuse in NCANDS was consistent with other data sources.
Victims of Sexual Abuse back to top
About 20 million out of 112 million women (18.0%) in the United States have been raped during their lifetime.
Only 16% of all rapes were reported to law enforcement.
In 2006 alone, 300,000 college women (5.2%) were raped.
Among college women, about 12% of rapes were reported to law enforcement.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey on the national prevalence of intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and stalking found:
81% of women who experienced rape, stalking, or physical violence by an intimate partner reported significant short- or long-term impacts.
About 35% of women who were raped as minors also were raped as adults, compared to 14% of women without an early rape history.
28% of male rape victims were first raped when they were 10 years old or younger.
In a 2012 maltreatment report, of the victims who were sexually abused, 26% were in the age group of 12–14 years and 34% were younger than 9 years.
Approximately 1.8 million adolescents in the United States have been the victims of sexual assault.
Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that approximately 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18.
35.8% of sexual assaults occur when the victim is between the ages of 12 and 17. 1
82% of all juvenile victims are female.
69% of the teen sexual assaults reported to law enforcement occurred in the residence of the victim, the offender, or another individual.
Teens 16 to 19 years of age were 3 ½ times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.
Approximately 1 in 5 female high school students report being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.
Disclosure Among Victims back to top
Father having a serious conversation with young son
Not all sexually abused children exhibit symptoms—some estimate that up to 40% of sexually abused children are asymptomatic; however, others experience serious and long-standing consequences.
A common presumption is that children will give one detailed, clear account of abuse. This is not consistent with research; disclosures often unfold gradually and may be presented in a series of hints. Children might imply something has happened to them without directly stating they were sexually abused—they may be testing the reaction to their “hint.”
If they are ready, children may then follow with a larger hint if they think it will be handled well.
It is easy to miss hints of disclosure of abuse. As a result, a child may not receive the help needed.
Disclosure of sexual abuse is often delayed; children often avoid telling because they are either afraid of a negative reaction from their parents or of being harmed by the abuser. As such, they often delay disclosure until adulthood.
Males tend not to report their victimization, which may affect statistics. Some men even feel societal pressure to be proud of early sexual activity, regardless of whether it was unwanted.
Studies of adults suggest that factors such as the relationship to the perpetrator, age at first incident of abuse, use of physical force, severity of abuse, and demographic variables, such as gender and ethnicity, impact a child’s willingness to disclose abuse.
When children do disclose:
It is frequently to a friend or a sibling.
Of all other family members, mothers are most likely to be told. Whether or not a mother might be told will depend on the child’s expected response from the mother.
Few disclose abuse to authorities or professionals.
Of all professionals, teachers are the most likely to be told.
Historically, professionals promoted the idea that children frequently report false accounts of abuse. Current research, however, lacks systematic evidence that false allegations are common. Recantations of abuse are also uncommon.
Abuse via Technologyback to top
Up-close view of a woman’s hands typing on a laptop keyboard
Approximately 1 in 7 (13%) youth Internet users received unwanted sexual solicitations.
9% of youth Internet users had been exposed to distressing sexual material while online.
Predators seek youths vulnerable to seduction, including those with histories of sexual or physical abuse, those who post sexually provocative photos/videos online, and those who talk about sex with unknown people online.
1 in 25 youths received an online sexual solicitation in which the solicitor tried to make offline contact.
In more than one-quarter (27%) of incidents, solicitors asked youths for sexual photographs of themselves.
The most common first encounter of a predator with an Internet-initiated sex crimes victim took place in an online chat room (76%).
In nearly half (47%) of the cases involving an Internet-initiated sex crimes victim, the predator offered gifts or money during the relationship-building phase.
Internet-based predators used less deception to befriend their online victims than experts had thought. Only 5% of the predators told their victims that they were in the same age group as the victims. Most offenders told the victims that they were older males seeking sexual relations.
15% of cell-owning teens (12–17) say they have received sexually suggestive nude/semi-nude images of someone they know via text.
Girl laying on the grass looking up at a cell phone
Of respondents to a survey of juvenile victims of Internet-initiated sex crimes, the majority met the predator willingly face-to-face and 93% of those encounters had included sexual contact.
72% of teenagers and young adults believe that digital abuse is something that should be addressed by society.
11% of teenagers and young adults say they have shared naked pictures of themselves online or via text message. Of those, 26% do not think the person whom they sent the naked pictures to shared them with anyone else.
26% of teenagers and young adults say they have participated in sexting (12 different forms of sexting were examined), a 6% decline since 2011.
Nearly 40% of young people in a relationship have experienced at least one form of abuse via technology. A large majority (81%) say they rarely or never feel their significant other uses technology to keep tabs on them too often.
Perpetrators of Sexual Abuse back to top
An estimated 60% of perpetrators of sexual abuse are known to the child but are not family members, e.g., family friends, babysitters, child care providers, neighbors.
About 30% of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are family members.
Only about 10% of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are strangers to the child.
Not all perpetrators are adults—an estimated 23% of reported cases of child sexual abuse are perpetrated by individuals under the age of 18.
Fact Sheet: What You Need to Know About Sex Offenders (pdf)
This fact sheet highlights key issues related to sex offenses and the management of sex offenders
who are under the control of the justice system. It is prepared for members of the public who want
to know more about sexual assault, sex offenders, and the role that citizens can play in keeping
their communities safe.
What Is Sexual Abuse?
Sexual abuse is:
• unwanted sexual contact between two or more adults or two or more minors;
• any sexual contact between an adult and a minor;
• any unwanted sexual contact initiated by a youth toward an adult; or
• sexual contact between two minors with a significant age difference between them.
Sex crimes can involve physical contact (e.g., unwanted sexual touching) or no physical contact
(e.g., Internet crimes).
How Common Are Sex Crimes?
Sex crimes are unfortunately fairly common in the United States. It is estimated that one in every
five girls and one in every seven boys are sexually abused by the time they reach adulthoodii. One
in six adult women and one in 33 adult men experience an attempted or completed sexual assaultiii.
How Many Arrests Occur for Sex Offenses?
Sex offenses represent under 1% of all arrestsiv. In 2004, the last year for which official report
data were available, there were 26,066 arrests for forcible rape and 90,913 arrests for other sex
offenses in the United Statesv
. Adults account for about 80% of arrests; juveniles for 20%vi. Males
account for approximately 95% of arrestsvii.
Are All Sex Crimes Reported?
Many victims do not report sexual abuse to authorities because theyviii:
• are afraid that their abuser will harm them again;
• do not want to make a very private matter public;
• are worried that they will be blamed for what happened or that they will not be believed;
• feel ashamed;
• feel guilty; and/or
• are embarrassed.
Warning Signs in Children of Possible Sexual Abuse
Behavior you may see in a child or adolescent:
- Has nightmares or other sleep problems without an explanation
- Seems distracted or distant at odd times
- Has a sudden change in eating habits
- Refuses to eat
- Loses or drastically increases appetite
- Has trouble swallowing
- Sudden mood swings: rage, fear, insecurity, or withdrawal
- Leaves “clues” that seem likely to provoke a discussion about sexual issues
- Develops new or unusual fear of certain people or places
- Refuses to talk about a secret shared with an adult or older child
- Writes, draws, plays, or dreams of sexual or frightening images
- Talks about a new older friend
- Suddenly has money, toys, or other gifts without reason
- Thinks of self or body as repulsive, dirty, or bad
- Exhibits adult-like sexual behaviors, language, and knowledge
All of the warning signs listed above are general indicators of sexual abuse in children. Many children do not actually disclose what happened; it is up to attentive adults to recognize hints. However, if you suspect a child has been abused by seeing these indications, or if he or she hints at abuse or outright discloses sexual abuse, seek help.
Behavior more typically found in adolescents (teens)
- Self-injury (cutting, burning)
- Inadequate personal hygiene
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Sexual promiscuity
- Running away from home
- Depression, anxiety
- Suicide attempts
- Fear of intimacy or closeness
- Compulsive eating or dieting
Indicators of Sexual Abuse in Adults
There are many reactions that survivors of rape and sexual assault can experience. For traumatic events in general, it is important to realize that there is not one “standard” pattern of reaction to the extreme stress of traumatic experiences. Some people respond immediately, while others have delayed reactions—sometimes months or even years later. Some have adverse effects for a long period of time, while others recover rather quickly. Reactions can change over time.
Some who have suffered from trauma are energized initially by the event to help them with the challenge of coping, only to later become discouraged or depressed. The impact of sexual abuse varies from person to person and can occur on several levels—physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Survivors may experience some of the following responses:
- Fear responses to reminders of the assault
- Pervading sense of anxiety, wondering whether it is possible to ever feel safe again
- Re-experiencing assault over and over again through flashbacks
- Problems concentrating and staying focused on the task at hand
- Guilty feelings
- Developing a negative self-image, feeling “dirty” inside or out
- Disruptions in close relationships
- Loss of interest in sex
Warning Signs That Might Suggest Someone Is Sexually Abusing a Child
The following behaviors could be cause for concern:
- Making others uncomfortable by ignoring social, emotional, or physical boundaries or limits
- Refusing to let a child set any of his or her own limits; using teasing or belittling language to keep a child from setting a limit
- Insisting on hugging, touching, kissing, tickling, wrestling with, or holding a child even when the child does not want this physical contact or attention
- Turning to a child for emotional or physical comfort by sharing personal or private information or activities that are normally shared with adults
- Frequently pointing out sexual images or telling inappropriate or suggestive jokes with children present
- Exposing a child to adult sexual interactions without apparent concern
- Having secret interactions with teens or children (e.g., games; sharing drugs, alcohol, or sexual material) or spending excessive time e-mailing, text-messaging, or calling children or youth
- Being overly interested in the sexuality of a particular child or teen (e.g., talks repeatedly about the child’s developing body or interferes with normal teen dating)
- Insisting on or managing to spend unusual amounts of uninterrupted time alone with a child
- Seeming “too good to be true” (e.g., frequently babysits different children for free, takes children on special outings alone, buys children gifts or gives them money for no apparent reason)
- Frequently walking in on children/teens in the bathroom
- Allowing children or teens to consistently get away with inappropriate behaviors
Darkness to light
CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE STATISTICS
The Issue of Child Sexual Abuse
What is child sexual abuse?
FACT: The definition of child sexual abuse is broader than most people realize.
Often a traumatic experience for children and teens, child sexual abuse is a criminal offense punishable
by law in many societies.
Child sexual abuse includes:
• any sexual act between an adult and a minor, or between two minors, when one exerts power over the other.
• forcing, coercing or persuading a child to engage in any type of sexual act.
• non-contact acts such as exhibitionism, exposure to pornography, voyeurism, and communicating in a sexual
manner by phone or Internet.
What is the magnitude of the problem?
FACT: Child sexual abuse is far more prevalent than most people realize.
• Child sexual abuse is likely the most prevalent health problem children face with the most serious array of
• About one in 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday*.
• About one in seven girls and one in 25 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18*.
• This year, there will be about 400,000* babies born in the U.S. that will become victims of child sexual abuse
unless we do something to stop it.
*Includes contact abuse only
FACT: Identified incidents of child sexual abuse are declining, although there is no clear indication of a
• The number of identified incidents of child sexual abuse decreased at least 47% from 1993 to 2005-2006.
FACT: Even with declining rates of sexual abuse, the public is not fully aware of the magnitude of the
• The primary reason is that only about 38% of child victims disclose the fact that they have been sexually
abused.Some never disclose.
• There are also privacy issues surrounding cases of child sexual abuse. For instance, public police reports do
not name the victim, and most media concerns have a policy that precludes naming victims.
FACT: Most people think of adult rape as a crime of great proportion and significance, and are unaware
that children are victimized at a much higher rate than adults.
• Nearly 70% of all reported sexual assaults (including assaults on adults) occur to children ages 17 and
Youths have higher rates of sexual assault victimization than do adults. In 2000, the rate for youths
aged 12 to 17 was.3 times higher than for adults.
• 44% of rapes with penetration occur to children under age 18. Victims younger than 12 accounted for 15% of
those raped, and another 29% of rape victims were between 12 and 17.
Who are the perpetrators of child sexual abuse?
FACT: Those who molest children look and act just like everyone else. There are people who have or will
sexually abuse children in churches, schools and youth sports leagues.
Abusers can be neighbors, friends and family members. People who sexually abuse children can be found in
families, schools, churches, recreation centers, youth sports leagues, and any other place children gather.
Significantly, abusers can be and often are other children.
• About 90% of children who are victims of sexual abuse know their abuser. Only 10% of sexually abused
children are abused by a stranger.
• Approximately 30% of children who are sexually abused are abused by family members.
• The younger the victim, the more likely it is that the abuser is a family member. Of those molesting a child
under six, 50% were family members. Family members also accounted for 23% of those abusing children
ages 12 to 17.
• About 60% of children who are sexually abused are abused by people the family trusts.
• Homosexual individuals are no more likely to sexually abuse children than heterosexual individuals.
FACT: Not everyone who sexually abuses children is a pedophile.
Child sexual abuse is perpetrated by a wide range of individuals with diverse motivations. It is impossible to
identify specific characteristics that are common to all those who molest children.
• Situational offenders tend to offend at times of stress and begin offending later than pedophilic offenders.
• They also have fewer victims (often family), and have a general preference for adult partners.
• Pedophilic offenders often start offending at an early age, and often have a large number of victims
(frequently not family members).
• 70% of child sex offenders have between one and 9 victims, while 20% have 10 to 40 victims.
•FACT: As many as 40% of children who are sexually abused are abused by older, or more powerful
• The younger the child victim, the more likely it is that the perpetrator is a juvenile. Juveniles are the offenders
in 43% of assaults on children under age six. Of these offenders, 14% are under age 12.
• Juveniles who commit sex offenses against other children are more likely than adult sex offenders to offend in
groups, to offend at schools, and to have more male victims and younger victims.
• The number of youth coming to the attention of police for sex offenses increases sharply at age 12 and
plateaus after age 14. Early adolescence is the peak age for youth offenses against younger children.
• A small number of juvenile offenders — one out of eight — are younger than age 12. Females constitute 7%
of juveniles who commit sex offenses.
FACT: Most adolescent sex offenders are not sexual predators and will not go on to become adult
• Most adolescent offenders do not meet the criteria for pedophilia and do not continue to exhibit sexually
• Adolescent sex offenders are more responsive to treatment than adults. They do not appear to continue to re-offend into adulthood, especially when provided with appropriate treatment.
Risk Factors and Consequences
Under what circumstances does child sexual abuse occur?
FACT: Child sexual abuse often takes place under specific, often surprising circumstances.
It is helpful to know these circumstances because it allows for the development of strategies to avoid child sexual
• 81% of child sexual abuse incidents for all ages occur in one-perpetrator/one-child circumstances. Six to 11-
year-old children are most likely (23%) to be abused in multiple-victim circumstances.
• Most sexual abuse of children occurs in a residence, typically that of the victim or perpetrator – 84% for
children under age 12, and 71% for children aged 12 to 17.
• Sexual assaults on children are most likely to occur at 8 a.m., 12 p.m. and between 3 and 4 p.m. For older
children, aged 12 to 17, there is also a peak in assaults in the late evening hours.
• One in seven incidents of sexual assault perpetrated by juveniles occurs on school days in the after-school
hours between 3 and 7 p.m., with a peak from 3 to 4 pm.
FACT: Commercial sexual exploitation and internet sex crimes against children are a small and yet
significant part of the overall problem.
• In 2006, arrests for online youth victim cases constituted only 1.2% of arrests for all sex crimes against
children. There were 615 arrests for online cases vs. arrests for all sex crimes against children.
• 9% of all 10 to 17 year olds receive unwanted sexual requests while on the Internet.
• Over a period of one year, one in 25 youth received an online sexual solicitation where the solicitor tried to
make offline contact.
• 23% of all 10 to 17 year old’s experience unwanted exposure to pornography.
• Child sexual abuse makes children more vulnerable to sexual exploitation. More than 90% of children who are
commercially sexually exploited have been sexually abused in the past.
• About 75% of child pornography victims are living at home when they are photographed. Parents are often
FACT: Abusers often form relationships with potential victims and their families prior to the abuse. This is
Grooming is a process by which an offender gradually draws a victim into a sexual relationship and
maintains that relationship in secrecy. At the same time, the offender may also fill roles within the
victim’s family that make the offender trusted and valued.
Grooming behaviors can include:
• Special attention, outings, and gifts
• Isolating the child from others
• Filling the child’s unmet needs
• Filling needs and roles within the family
• Treating the child as if he or she is older
• Gradually crossing physical boundaries, and becoming increasingly intimate/sexual
• Use of secrecy, blame, and threats to maintain control
What factors increase a child’s risk for sexual abuse?
FACT: While no child is immune, there are child and family characteristics that significantly heighten or
lower risk of sexual abuse.
The following risk factors are based on reported and identified cases of abuse:
• Family structure is the most important risk factor in child sexual abuse. Children who live with two married
biological parents are at low risk for abuse. The risk increases when children live with step-parents or a single
• Children living without either parent (foster children) are 10 times more likely to be sexually abused than
children that live with both biological parents. Children who live with a single parent that has a live-in partner
are at the highest risk: they are 20 times more likely to be victims of child sexual abuse than children living
with both biological parents.
• Gender is also a major factor in sexual abuse. Females are five times more likely to be abused than
males. The age of the male being abused also plays a part. 8% of victims aged 12 to 17 are male. 26% of
victims under the age of 12 are male.
• Age is a significant factor in sexual abuse. While there is risk for children of all ages, children are most
vulnerable to abuse between the ages of seven and 13.
The median age for reported abuse is nine years
old. However, more than 20% of children are sexually abused before the age of eight.
• Race and ethnicity are an important factor in identified sexual abuse. African American children have almost
twice the risk of sexual abuse than white children. Children of Hispanic ethnicity have a slightly greater risk
than non-Hispanic white children.
• The risk for sexual abuse is tripled for children whose parent(s) are not in the labor force.
• Children in low socioeconomic status households are three times as likely to be identified as a victim of child
• Children who live in rural areas are almost two times more likely to be identified as victims of child sexual
• Children who witness or are the victim of other crimes are significantly more likely to be sexually abused.
• Victims of child sexual abuse are more likely to be sexually promiscuous.
FACT: Academic problems in childhood are a common symptom of sexual abuse.
• Sexually abused children tended to perform lower on psychometric tests measuring cognitive ability,
academic achievement, and memory assessments when compared to same-age non-sexually abused
• Studies indicate that sexual abuse exposure among children and adolescents is associated with high school
absentee rates, more grade retention, increased need for special education services and difficulty with
• 39% of 7 to 12-year-old girls with a history of child sexual abuse had academic difficulties.
• 7 to 12 year-old girls with a history of child sexual abuse were 50% more likely to display cognitive ability
below the 25th percentile.
• 26% of 7 to 12 year-old girls with a history of child sexual abuse reported that their grades dropped after they
were abused and 48% had below-average grades.
• A history of child sexual abuse significantly increases the chance of dropping out of school.
FACT: Substance abuse problems beginning in childhood or adolescence are some of the most common
consequences of child sexual abuse.
• A number of studies have found that adolescents with a history of child sexual abuse demonstrate a three to
fourfold increase in rates of substance abuse/dependence.
• Drug abuse is more common than alcohol abuse for adolescent child sexual abuse victims. Age of onset for
non-experimental drug use was 14.4 years old for victims, compared to 15.1 years old for non-victimized
• Adolescents were 2 to 3 times more likely to have an alcohol use/dependence problem than non-victims.
FACT: Delinquency and crime, often stemming from substance abuse, are more prevalent in adolescents
with a history of child sexual abuse.
• Adolescents who were sexually abused have a 3 to 5-fold risk of delinquency.
• Behavioral problems, including physical aggression, non-compliance, and oppositionality occur frequently
among sexually abused children and adolescents.
• These emotional and behavioral difficulties can lead to delinquency, poor school performance and dropping
out of school.
• Adolescents that reported victimization (i.e., sexual abuse or physical abuse) were more likely to be arrested
than their non-abused peers.
• Sexually abused children were nearly twice as likely to run away from home.
FACT: The risk of teen pregnancy is much higher for girls with a history of child sexual abuse.
The increased risk for pregnancy at a young age is likely due to over-sexualized behavior, another common
consequence of child sexual abuse.
• Girls who are sexually abused are 2.2 times as likely as non-abused peers to become teen mothers.
• 45% of pregnant teens report a history of child sexual abuse.
• Males who are sexually abused are more likely than their non-abused peers to impregnate a teen. In fact,
several studies indicate that the sexual abuse of boys is a stronger risk factor for teen pregnancy than the
sexual abuse of girls.
• Most sexual abuse incidents reported by pregnant teens occurred well before the incident that resulted in
pregnancy. Only 11 to 13% of pregnant girls with a history of child sexual abuse reported that they had
become pregnant as a direct result of this abuse.
What are the long-term consequences of child sexual abuse?
Child sexual abuse has lasting consequences for victims. The real tragedy is that it robs children of their
potential, setting into motion a chain of events and decisions that affect them throughout their lives.
FACT: Substance abuse problems are a common consequence for adult survivors of child sexual abuse.
• Female adult survivors of child sexual abuse are nearly three times more likely to report substance use
problems (40.5% versus 14% in general population).
• Male adult CSA victims are 2.6 times more likely to report substance use problems (65% versus 25% in
FACT: Mental health problems are a common long-term consequence of child sexual abuse.
• Adult women who were sexually abused as a child are more than twice as likely to suffer from depression as
women who were not sexually abused.
• Adults with a history of child sexual abuse are more than twice as likely to report a suicide attempt.
• Females who are sexually abused are three times more likely to develop psychiatric disorders than females
who are not sexually abused.
• Among male survivors, more than 70% seek psychological treatment for issues such as substance abuse,
suicidal thoughts and attempted suicide.
FACT: Obesity and eating disorders are more common in women who have a history of child sexual
• – 24 year-old women who were sexually abused as children were four times more likely than their non-abused peers to be diagnosed with an eating disorder.
• Middle-aged women who were sexually abused as children were twice as likely to be obese when compared
with their non-abused peers.
FACT: Child sexual abuse is also associated with physical health problems in adulthood. It is theorized
that this is a consequence of the substance abuse, mental health issues and other consequences that
survivors of child sexual abuse face.
• Generally, adult victims of child sexual abuse have higher rates of health care utilization and report
significantly more health complaints compared to adults without a child sexual abuse history. This is true
for both self-reported doctor’s visits and objective examination of medical records. These health problems
represent a burden both to the survivor and the healthcare system.
• Adult survivors of child sexual abuse are at greater risk of a wide range of conditions that are non-life
threatening and are potentially psychosomatic in nature. These include fibromyalgia, severe premenstrual
syndrome, chronic headaches, irritable bowel syndrome and a wide range of reproductive and sexual health
complaints, including excessive bleeding, amenorrhea, pain during intercourse and menstrual
• Not only do survivors of child sexual abuse have more minor health conditions, they are at greater risk for
more serious conditions as well. Adults with a history of child sexual abuse are 30% more likely than their
non-abused peers to have a serious medical condition such as diabetes, cancer, heart problems, stroke or
• Male sexual abuse survivors have twice the HIV-infection rate of non-abused males. In a study of HIV-infected 12 to 20 year old’s, 41% reported a sexual abuse history.90,91
FACT: Adult survivors of child sexual abuse are more likely to become involved in crime, both as a
perpetrator and as a victim. This is likely a product of a higher risk for substance abuse problems and
associated lifestyle factors.
• Adult survivors are more than twice as likely to be arrested for a property offense than their non-abused peers
(9.3% versus 4.4%).
• As adults, child sexual abuse victims were almost twice as likely to be arrested for a violent offense as the
general population (20.4% versus 10.7%).
• Males who have been sexually abused are more likely to violently victimize others.
Note: Although survivors of child sexual abuse are negatively impacted as a whole, it is important to realize that many
individual survivors do not suffer these consequences. Child sexual abuse does not necessarily sentence a victim to an
Child sexual abuse has lasting consequences for societies. When the prevalence of child sexual abuse is
combined with its economic burden, the results are staggering.
FACT: Child sexual abuse is a public health problem of enormous consequence.
• The CDC recently estimated the lifetime burden of a new substantiated of nonfatal child maltreatment to be
$210,012 per victim. This includes immediate costs, as well as loss of productivity and increased healthcare
costs in adulthood.
• While this estimate is for all forms of child maltreatment, there is evidence that the consequences of child
sexual abuse are equivalent or greater than the consequences of other forms of child maltreatment.
• This estimate is comparable to that of many other high profile public health problems, indicating the impact
and seriousness of the issue of child maltreatment. For example, the lifetime costs of stroke per person were
estimated at $159,846 (2010 dollars).The total lifetime costs associated with type 2 diabetes were estimated
between $181,000 and $253,000 (2010 dollars) per case.
Reporting Child Sexual Abuse
What are the reporting rates for child sexual abuse?
FACT: Only about a third of child sexual abuse incidents/cases are identified, and even fewer are
Researchers estimate that 38% of child victims disclose the fact that they have been sexually
abused.5,6 Of these, 40% tell a close friend, rather than an adult or authority. These “friend-to-friend”
disclosures do not always result in reports. This means that the vast majority of child sexual abuse
incidents are never reported to authorities, though research suggests that disclosure rates to authorities
may be increasing.
• Child protective services agencies investigate about 55% of the child sexual abuse incidents reported to
them. The rest are “screened out” for lack of adequate information or for other reasons. Of those reports
investigated, only a portion meets the criteria for “substantiated.”
• Child protective service agencies investigate only 20% of the incidents/children identified and reported by
• School personnel identify 52% of all identified child abuse cases classified as causing harm to the child, more
than any other profession or organizational type, including child protective services agencies and the police.
• Two-thirds of teachers do not receive specific training in preventing, recognizing or responding to child sexual
abuse in either their college coursework or as part of their professional development.
• 24% of school personnel have never received any oral or written guidelines on the mandated reporting
requirements of their state.
• As many as 25% of child sexual abuse incidents identified by professionals not working specifically in child
protection services are not reported, despite a mandated reporting law that requires it.
FACT: False reports of child sexual abuse made by children are rare.
It is estimated that only 4 to 8% of child sexual abuse reports are fabricated. Most of the fabricated reports are
made by adults involved in custody disputes or by adolescents.
How many child sexual abuse reports result in arrests?
FACT: A large number of those arrested for child sexual assault are convicted and serve time in prison or
While the rate of conviction is high, arrests are made in only 29% of child sexual abuse cases and are 32% more
likely to be made in incidents involving older children. For children under six, only 19% of sexual abuse incidents
result in arrest.
• Of those charged, about 80% of rape offenders (including rapists of adults) are convicted.
• An estimated 48% of rape defendants (including rapes of adults) were released from detention prior to the
disposition of their case. Only defendants charged with murder had a lower rate of release (24%) than those
for whom rape charges were ending.
• About 14% of those convicted of rape were convicted in a jury trial, but for most defendants (82%), conviction
followed a guilty plea. The remaining 4% were convicted following a bench trial.
• Overall, 87% of convicted rapists (including rapists of adults) were incarcerated, and about 13% received a
sentence to probation supervision in the community.
• For convicted rapists sentenced to prison (not local jails), the average term imposed was just under 14 years.
An estimated 2% of convicted rapists received a term of life imprisonment.
• For each convicted rape offender in a prison or jail, there are nearly 3 rape offenders under probation or
parole supervision in the community.
Fact: Research shows that child sexual abuse perpetrators re-offend at a lower rate than other types of
offenders, including those convicted of rape.
• Rapists had a lower rate of re-arrest for a new felony and a lower rate of re-arrest for a violent felony than
most categories of probationers with convictions for violence.
• Released rapists were found to be 10.5 times as likely as non-rapists to be re-arrested for rape.
• Research suggests that incest offenders re-offend at approximately half the rate of “acquaintance” child
What do I do if I suspect or discover child sexual abuse?
FACT: Signs that a child is being sexually abused are often present, but they are often indistinguishable
from other signs of childhood stress, distress or trauma.
• Direct physical signs of child sexual abuse are not common. However, when physical signs are present, they
may include bruising, bleeding, redness and bumps, or scabs around the mouth, genitals, or anus. Urinary
tract infections, sexually transmitted diseases, and abnormal vaginal or penile discharge are also warning
• Child sexual abuse victims often exhibit indirect physical signs, such as anxiety, chronic stomach pain and
• Emotional and behavioral signals are common among sexually abused children. Some of these are “too
perfect” behavior, withdrawal, fear, depression, unexplained anger and rebellion.
• Some common consequences of trauma include nightmares, bed-wetting, falling grades, cruelty to animals,
bullying, being bullied, fire setting, runaway, and self-harm of any kind.
• One of the most telling signs that sexual abuse is occurring is sexual behavior and language that is not age appropriate.
• Use of alcohol or drugs at an early age can be a sign of trauma such as child sexual abuse.
Note: Child sexual abuse victims may exhibit a wide range of immediate reactions, both in magnitude and form. Resilient
children may not suffer serious consequences, whereas other children with the same experience may be highly traumatized.
Some victims do not display emotional problems or any other immediate symptom in response to the abuse.
FACT: Child sexual abuse reports should be made to the state’s child protective services agency, the
police or both.
The Facts are Staggering:
- There are more than 42 million survivors of sexual abuse in America. (National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse)
- 1 in 3 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18. (The Advocacy Center)
- 1 in 5 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18. (The Advocacy Center)
- 1 in 5 children are solicited sexually while on the Internet before the age of 18. (National Children’s Alliance: Nationwide Child Abuse Statistics)
- 30% of sexual abuse is never reported. (Child Sex Abuse Prevention and Protection Center)
- Nearly 70% of all reported sexual assaults (including assaults on adults) occur to children age 17 and under. (Children’s Advocacy Center)
- 90% of child sexual abuse victims know the perpetrator in some way. (U.S. Department of Justice)
- Approximately 20% of the victims of sexual abuse are under age eight. (Broward County)
- 95% of sexual abuse is preventable through education. (Child Molestation Research and Prevention Institute)
- 38% of the sexual abusers of boys are female. (Broward County)
- There is worse lasting emotional damage when a child’s sexual abuse started before the age of six, and lasted for several years. Among child and teen victims of sexual abuse there is a 42 percent increased chance of suicidal thoughts during adolescence. (American Counseling Association)
- “More than 90% of individuals with a developmental delay or disability will be sexually assaulted at least once in their lifetime.” (Valenti-Heim, D.m Schwartz L.)
- “There are nearly half a million registered sex offenders in the U.S. – 80,000 to 100,000 of them are missing.” (The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)
- “A typical pedophile will commit 117 sexual crimes in a lifetime.” (National Sex Offenders Registry)
View and download a list of sexual abuse facts and statistics.
Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education, but 95% of abuse is preventable through education and awareness.