Research & Articles: Reports & Statistics

Incidence of Sexual Abuse

1 in 4 girls is sexually abused before the age of 14.
1 in 6 boys is sexually abused before the age of 16.

Source: Hopper, J. (1998). Child Sexual Abuse: Statistics, Research, Resources. Boston, MA Boston University School of Medicine.

The most common ages of children when sexual abuse occurs are between 8 and 12.

Source: David Finkelhor et al, A Sourcebook on Child Sexual Abuse, Newbury Park: Sage Publications

More than 90% of all sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator. Almost 50% of the offenders are household members, and 38% are already acquaintances of the victims.

Source: US Department of Justice and Ormond, 2001.

80% of sexual assaults occur at home; 49% in broad daylight.

Source: Sexual Assault Care Centre, 1999, Myths and Facts About Sexual Assault

Peer-to-Peer Sexual Abuse

Juvenile sexual offenders were responsible for 37% of all sexual assaults against minors.

Source: Snyder & Sickmund, 2006

At least 50% of juvenile sexual offenders are themselves victims of sexual abuse.
Average onset of child sexual assault behavior: 12-14 years old.

Source: Children Who Commit Crime, Rolf Loeber and David P. Farrington, 2000

Teens and Exploitation

Teenagers account for 51% of all reported sexual abuse.

Source: Rennison, 2000

Teens 16 to 19 years of age were three and a half times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.

Source: Rennison, Callie M. "Criminal Victimization 1999: Changes 1998-00 with Trends 1993-99." Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice, August 2000.

33% of sexual assaults occur when the victim is between the ages of 12-17.

Source: Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement: Victim, Incident, and Offender Characteristics. U.S. Department of Justice Statistics, 2000.)

A survey of high school adolescents showed that 12% of girls and 5% of boys had experienced sexual abuse during their lifetime.

Source: The Commonwealth Fund. Improving the Health of Adolescent Girls: Policy Report of the Commonwealth Fund Commission on Women's Health. New York, NY. 1999.

Teens and Sexting

37% of teen girls and 40% of teen boys say they have sent or posted sexually suggestive messages (text, email, IM.)

22% of teen girls and 18% of teen boys say they have sent/posted nude or semi-nude pictures or video of themselves.

15% of teens who have sent or posted nude/seminude images of themselves say they have done so to someone they only knew online.

71% of teen girls and 67% of teen guys who have sent or posted sexually suggestive content say they have sent/posted this content to a boyfriend/girlfriend.

Source: Sex and Tech: Results From a Survey of Teens and Young Adults, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and, 2009


Like rape, child molestation is one of the most underreported crimes: only 1-10% are ever disclosed.

Source: FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin

69% of reported teen sexual assaults occurred in the residence of the victim, the offender or another individual.

Source: Snyder, 2000

Child Abduction

100 Children are kidnapped by strangers each year in the United States. Source: U.S. Department of Justice, 2002

  • 74 percent of abducted children who are murdered are killed within three hours of the abduction.
  • In 80% of the cases, the initial contact between the killer and the victim was within 1/4 mile of the victim's residence.
  • The majority of cases (57%) were based solely on opportunity.

Source: Hanfland, Keppel & Weis, Case Management for Missing Children Homicide Investigation: Executive Summary. Olympia, Washington: Office of the Attorney General of Washington and U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, May 1997.

The Financial Cost of Sexual Abuse

Sexually violent acts against children (ages 0-14) cost $71 billion every year.
Sexual violence against adolescents (ages 15-24) costs $45 billion per year. Source: Children's Safety Network Economic and Insurance Resource Center

Average cost of mental health care for each sexual abuse victim: $5,800.

Source: National Institute of Justice

Cost-Benefit of Prevention Efforts

For every dollar spent on prevention programs, from $2 to $20 is returned in benefits. Benefits of prevention efforts result in reduced demand for health and social services.

Source: San Diego Community Health Improvement Partners

Sexual Abuse Prevention Programs Work

After careful review of research, evidence and studies related to child sexual abuse prevention, David Finkelhor, Ph.D, with the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, made the following conclusions in his article entitled "Prevention of Sexual Abuse Through Educational Programs Directed Toward Children":

  • Prevention programs reduce self‐blame and stigma.
  • Research shows that the programs promote disclosure/reporting.
  • The programs cause an increase in parent‐child conversations on the topic of personal safety and sexual abuse.
  • Evidence shows that it is worth providing children with high‐quality prevention education programs.