85 percent of child sex abuse goes undetected

Date: 
Tuesday, 24 November, 2015

The Children's Commissioner has called for urgent action to improve the prevention and early identification of child sex abuse and the support provided for victims. The report, Protecting children from harm: A critical assessment of child sexual abuse in the family network in England and priorities for action, reveals that the vast majority of child sexual abuse (66%) takes place within the family or its trusted circle.

While police and local authorities recorded around 50,000 cases of sexual abuse over the two years to March 2014, it is estimated that as many as 450,000 children were abused over the same period – meaning that only 1 in 8 received the vital intervention needed to keep them safe and help to overcome their experiences.

The report reveals:

  • girls are much more likely to suffer abuse – though males may be under-represented because they are less likely to report abuse or for it to be identified
  • children often do not recognise they have been abused until they are older
  • professionals working with children need additional support to help them identify victims of sexual abuse.

Last year the Centre's Research Associate, Helen Mills, wrote about Gen5 - an initiative to end child sex abuse in 5 generations. Helen outlines the opportunities and challenges posed by 'transformative justice' approaches. Read more here