Stats, Facts and Reports

February 4, 2022
Author: Andy Prosser

Official Defintion of Child Sex Abuse

Child sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration *(eg rape or oral sex), or acts in which there is no penetration (eg masturbation, kissing, rubbing or touching outside of clothing).

They may also include non-contact activities, such as involving children in the production or viewing of sexual images, encouraging children to watch sexual activities or behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse, including via the internet.

This definition is based on the Working Together to Safeguard Children (HM Government, 2013) government guidance in England. It is similar to the definitions used in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

17,727 sexual crimes against children under 16 were recorded in England and Wales in 2010/11.

32% of all sexual crimes (54,982 sexual crimes in total) recorded in England and Wales in 2010/11 were sexual crimes against children under 16.

In 2010/11 the police in England and Wales recorded:

5,115 offences of rape of a female child under 16

918 offences of rape of a male child under 16

4,301 offences of sexual assault on a female child under 13

1,125 offences of sexual assault on a male child under 13

5,806 offences of sexual activity involving a child under 16

152 offences of abuse of children through prostitution and pornography

310 offences of sexual grooming.

In 2010/11 the police in England and Wales also recorded 146 offences of abuse of a position of trust involving a child under 18.

More than one third (38%) of all rapes recorded by the police in England and Wales in 2010/11 were committed against children under 16 years of age.


From: Chaplin, Rupert, Faltley, John and Smith, Kevin (eds.) (2011) Table 2.04. In: Crime in England and Wales 2010/11: findings from the British Crime Survey and police recorded crime (PDF). London: National Statistics. p.43.

Did you know…

One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused by their 18th birthday. This does not include teenagers having consensual sex. The median age for child sexual abuse is nine.

• A child is sexually abused in this country every two minutes.

• Around two-thirds of all Child Sexual Abuse reported to the police is perpetrated by a family member or someone close to the child.

• As many as 90% of abusers are known and trusted by the child and his or her family.

• There is massive under-reporting of sexual offences on victims. Estimates vary, but may be as high as 80 to 90% (Jordan, 1995, Hough & Mayhew, 1984).

• Abuse by a family member may be particularly traumatic because it involves high levels of betrayal, stigma and secrecy.


To stay silent, when we know so much, when we see and hear the pain and anguish caused by this crime is not an option. We can no-longer turn a deaf ear, or a blind eye, to do so we are giving perpetrators free reign to have their way…

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