Key child protection statistics


These statistics were compiled by the NSPCC Child Protection Awareness and Diversity Department in December 2007.

Overall, 11% of boys aged under 16 and 21% of girls aged under 16 experienced sexual abuse during childhood.

1% of children aged under 16 experienced sexual abuse by a parent or carer, and a further 3% by another relative during childhood.

11% of children aged under 16 experienced sexual abuse during childhood by people known but unrelated to them.5% of children aged under 16 experienced sexual abuse during childhood by an adult stranger or someone they had just met.

In total, 16% of children aged under 16 experienced sexual abuse during childhood. 11% of this was contact abuse and 6% was non-contact.

The majority of children who experienced sexual abuse had more than one sexually abusive experience; only indecent exposure was likely to be a single incident.

Three-quarters (72%) of sexually abused children did not tell anyone about the abuse at the time. 27% told someone later. Around a third (31%) still had not told anyone about their experience(s) by early adulthood.

For the children who experienced sexual abuse1 in the family, the most common perpetrator was a brother or stepbrother:

For other forms of sexual abuse (attempted penetrative/oral acts, touching, voyeurism/pornography and exposure) brothers were also the most frequently cited perpetrator.

For the children who experienced sexual abuse outside of the family, the most common perpetrator was a boyfriend or girlfriend.

Very few children (less than 1%) experienced abuse by professionals in a position of trust, for example a teacher, religious leader or care/social worker.

The above quotations all come from  Cawson, P. et al. (2000) 
London: NSPCC.


The study defined sexual abuse as acts against the respondent’s wishes when aged under 16, or acts perpetrated by someone 5 or more years older when the child was aged 12 or under. Sexual acts were categorised as ‘contact’ (physical contact with genital, anal or other normally private areas of the body; and other physical contact such as sexual hugging and kissing) and ‘non-contact’ (exposure of genitals or other private areas of the body, voyeurism, exposing children to, or using them to make, pornography or to watch sexual acts). The study only included acts experienced by children aged up to 16.