Citizens Against Sexual Assault, now known as the Collins Center, reported in 2005 that the prevailing estimate of child sexual abuse in the United States is that 1 in 4 girls is sexually abused by age 14, (for boys, 1 in 6 boys are abused prior to age 16). For 22% of the boys and 23% of the girls, sexual abuse occurred before age eight. Only 1 out of 10 of these children told of their abuse. Forty-two percent of women and 33% of men never tell of their abuse. Consequences of child sexual abuse are well researched. Girls are more likely to develop eating disorders, psychiatric disorders, and alcohol and drug dependencies. Boys are more likely to develop alcohol and drug dependencies, attempt suicide, receive psychiatric treatment, and be victims of violence.

Stop It Now!
, an online campaign to prevent sexual abuse, reported in 2005 that 500,000 children are sexually abused each year. Up to 1 in 3 girls will be sexually abused during their childhoods, and as many as 1 in 7 boys. This means that, if you are looking at an auditorium containing 100 children, 20-30 of them have been, are being, or will be sexually abused prior to reaching adulthood. Over 78,000 cases of child sexual abuse were reported and substantiated in 2006 (Child Maltreatment, 2006). However, this does not include the majority of cases which are never reported to authorities. Assuming that only 30% of cases (Finkelhor, 2008) are reported to authorities, the real number could be anywhere from 260,000 - 650,000 cases each year. 
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families reports the most recent data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS). In 2008 approximately 772,000 children were found to be victims of child abuse or neglect. Types of abuse included neglect, 71.1%; physical abuse,
16.1%; sexual abuse, 9.1%; emotional or psychological abuse, 7.3%; and medical neglect, 2.2%. Children also suffered other types of abuse, including abandonment, threat of harm, and drug addiction. The victimization rate for 2008 was 10.3 per 1,000 children in the population. 

Statistics on childhood sexual abuse reported by The Awareness Center include:

  • 44% of rape victims are under age 18.
  • 15% of rape victims are under 12.
  • 7% of girls in grades 5-8 and 12% of girls in grade 9-12 report they have been sexually abused.
  • 3% of boys in grades 5-8 and 5% of boys in grade 9-12 report they have been sexually abused.  
  • 93% of victims knew the offender.
  • 34.2% were family members, 58.7% were acquaintances, and 7% were strangers.
  • 75% of substantiated sexual abuse cases involved female victims.
  • 30% of victims were between ages 4-7.
  • Many sex crimes are not reported. Among reasons given by victims is fear of offender.
  • Of sexually abused children in grades 5-12, 48% of the boys and 29% of the girls had told no one about the abuse - not even close friends or siblings.

The Childhood Sexual Abuse Fact Sheet  (Douglas & Finkelhor, 2009) provides statistics of child sexual abuse and reports a governmental source stating 78,188 child victims in 2003. The National Crime Victimization Survey, however, provides a larger estimate of victims in only the 12-17 age range. National estimates and surveys vary, and sexual abuse is acknowledged to be underreported. The National Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children (NISMART-2) reported an estimated 320,400 sexually abused children in 1999. A national telephone survey, however, estimated victimization rate for children aged 2-17 at a rate 7 times higher than the NISMART. Estimates of sxual abuse vary for many reasons, including less than 10% of cases being reported to police, differences in definition of abuse and age ranges, and social services reporting primarily on family abuse. Another reason for underreporting is that many victims have repressed memories of the abuse. The National Resource Council estimates the sexual abuse rate between 20-62 percent of the population, with the higher percentage including nontouch abuse. Reports made by children are rarely false.  

The Awareness Center also included 2003 statistics from the Children's Cove, an agency working with child sexual abuse victims. Data from their agency shows: 

  • Boys are almost as likely as girls to be sexually abused, with estimated rate of 47% to 53%.
  • After age 10, the percentage of male victims drops to 27%.
  • Biological father were reported as the offender more often than the combination of stepfathers, intimate partners, and uncles.
  • The number of juvenile sex offenders has steadily increased.
  • Approximately 60 million sexual abuse survivors live in the United States today.
  • Approximately 90% of teenage prostitutes have been sexually abused (prior).
  • Female sexual abuse victims are 3 times more likely to develop psychiatric disorders or abuse alcohol and drugs.

Childhelp National Child Abuse Statistics reports a current epidemic of child abuse in the United States. They state that, although 3 million cases of child abuse are reported in the United States each year, the actual number is probably 3 times greater. They provide statistics about child abuse (not just sexual abuse) and neglect and state that: 

  • 4 children die every day because of child abuse, and 75% of these are under 4 years old.A report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds.
  • Abuse occurs at every economic, social, and cultural level.
  • Children aged 0-3 are the most likely to experience abuse of all kinds.
  • Of the children under 12 reported to be raped, 90% of them knew the perpetrator.
  • Nearly 40% of women in prison and 14% of men were abused as children.
  • Victims of child sexual abuse are 2.5 times more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs as adults.
  • One third of the children who are abused will grow up to abuse their children.
  • 80% of adults who have been abused as children develop psychiatric disorders such as depression , Eating Disorders, and PTSD.

The American Psychological Association reports in APA Online that approximately 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18. Government research estimates that approximately 300,000 children are abused every year in the United States. However, accurate statistics on the prevalence of sexual abuse of children and adolescents are difficult to collect because it is vastly underreported and there are differing definitions of what constitutes sexual abuse. Boys (and later, men) tend not to report their victimization, which may affect statistics. Boys are more likely than girls to be abused outside of the family. Children with a prior history of sexual abuse are extremely likely to be revictimized, with estimate of increased risk of over 1000%.
Most mental health and child protection professionals agree that child sexual abuse is not uncommon and is a serious problem.  

Definitions for what constitutes sexual abuse are also not universally applied. Because of these factors, accurate statistics on the prevalence of sexual abuse are impossible to obtain. The APA maintains that the effects of child sexual abuse are wide ranging, vary from mild to severe, and are both short and long-term. Some that they mention are emotional, such as depression, anxiety and anxiety attacks, guilt, and fear; behavioral, such as withdrawal, acting out, childhood regressive behaviors, sleeping problems, eating problems, performance problems, problems in adult relationships, and self-destructive behaviors, such as alcohol and drug addiction; and sexual, such as sexual dysfunction and other sexual issues. provides statistics and links about child sexual abuse. They report that the incidence of child abuse and neglect has been decreasing in recent years. However, more than 1.25 million, or 1 in every 58 children in the United States, were abused in 2006. More than half (61 %) of the children (771,700 children) were victims of neglect, meaning a parent or guardian failed to provide for the child's basic needs.  Another 44 percent were victims of abuse (553,300 children), including physical abuse (325,000 children), sexual abuse (135,000 children), and emotional abuse (148,500 children). An average of nearly 4 children die every day as a result of child abuse or neglect (1,760 in 2007). Other child abuse statistics include that:

  • Children whose parents are unemployed are twice as likely to be abused and 2-3 times more likely to be neglected than children with employed parents. 
  • Children in low socioeconomic families have more than 3 times the rate of child abuse and 7 times the rate of neglect than other children.
  • Living with married biological parents places children at the lowest risk for child abuse and neglect. Living with a single parent and live-in partner increases the risk of abuse and neglect to more than 8 times that of other children.

Statistics reported by Child Lures Prevention:

  • Only 12% of sexual abuse cases are reported.
  • By age 14, 1 in 4 girls is sexually abused.
  • Before age 16, 1 in 7 boys is sexually abused.
  • More than 90% of sexual abuse victims know their offenders.
  • 50% of the offenders live in the home with the victim.
  • Average number of victims has a pedophile (serial child molester) has in his lifetime is 360-380.
  • The most common age for sexual abuse to occur is age 8-12.  
  • 21.6% of women who report being raped in their lifetimes report that the first rape occurred before age 12.
  • Children and adolescents under age 18 account for 67% of all sexual assault cases investigated by law enforcement.  Of those cases, 34% are under age 12 and 14% are under age 6.
  • 1.8 million out of the 22.3 million adolescents in the U.S. have experienced sexual abuse.
  • Child molestation is believed to be so underreported that only 1% to 10% ever disclose.
  • 2/3 of babies born to teenage mothers have adult males as fathers.

The U.S. Department of Justice reviewed data from 2 dozen sets of statistics maintained by the Bureau of Justice and the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program of the FBI. These provided a comprehensive overview of incidence and prevalence of sexual assault, criminal justice response to crimes, and characteristics of offenders. Findings included: 

  • Convicted offenders reporting that 2/3 of victims were under age 18.
  • 58% of convicted offenders reported their victims as 12 or younger.
  • In 90% of the cases involving rape of a child under 12 years old, the child knew the perpetrator.
  • Sex offenders were older than other violent offenders, usually in the early 30's and more likely to be white.

The U.S. Department of Justice (Federal Prosecution of Child Sex Exploitation Offenders) reports that in 2006, 3661 suspects were referred to U.S. attorneys for child sex exploitation offenses. Child pornography constituted 69% of referrals, followed by sex abuse (16%), and sex transportation (14%). Nine of 10 defendants were convicted and sentenced to prison. Most suspects charged with sex exploitation were white, male, U.S. citizens, and had attended some college. provides statistics, sources of statistics, and problems with statistics. Dr. Jim Hopper is a researcher, therapist, Instructor in Psychology at McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Other useful links:
Prevent Child Abuse America
A-team Child Abuse Information  



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