Data and Statistics About Childhood Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse of children is a problem of epidemic proportions, often continuing through generations. An estimated 39 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse live in America today.


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.
  • For adults, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys have been sexually abused before the age of 18.
  • Greater than 20% of sexually abused children are abused before age 8.
  • Only 4-8% of reports of child sexual abuse are fabricated.
Most abusers are known to the victim
  • Only 10% of children are abused by strangers.
  • 30-40% of child sexual abuse victims are abused by a family member.
  • 50% of victims are abused by someone who is known to the child outside of the family.
  • Approximately 40% are abused by older or larger children they know.
  • Children who grow up in a family where there is domestic violence are 8 times more likely to be sexually abused within that family.
The silent epidemic of sexual abuse
  • Over 30% of children never disclose their abuse to anyone.
  • 90 to 95% of sexual abuse cases are never reported to the police.
The U.S. Bureau of Justice reports:
  • 34% of victims were under age 12.
  • 1 in 7 victims were under age 6.
In King County, based on U.S. census reports, there are:
  • Over 300,000 estimated adult male and female survivors
  • At least 30,000 under the poverty level
Childhood sexual abuse creates effects across a lifetime
  • Sexual abuse interrupts normal childhood development — children who have been victims of sexual abuse exhibit long-term and more frequent behavior problems, particularly inappropriate sexual behaviors.
  • Women reporting childhood sexual assault are 3 times more likely to become pregnant before age 18.
  • 70 to 80% of sexual abuse survivors report excessive use of drugs and alcohol.
  • More than 75% of teenage prostitutes have been sexually abused, and 59% of women in maximum-security prisons identify as adult survivors of sexual abuse.
  • 27% of women suffering from bulimia were sexually assaulted at some point in their lives.
  • Direct costs of child sexual abuse are estimated conservatively at $23 billion annually. 

Statistics from the National Center for Victims of Crime (2000), Department of Justice (1994, 2000,2002, 2003) Rape in America Study (1992), Prevent Child Abuse in America (2001), DHHS (2001), Center for Disease Control (1995-1997), Darkness to Light.

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