Global Child Abuse Statistics

Child Abuse Statistics UK – From NSPCC

  • Approximately 50,500 children in the UK are known to be at risk of abuse right now.
  • One in four young adults (25.3%) were severely maltreated during childhood.
  • Between 1 to 4 children die every 10 days in the UK due to child abuse.

We do not know exactly how many children in the UK have been abused.

The UK does not publish statistics on the number of substantiated child abuse cases recorded every year (this would be the incidence of child abuse)

Official statistics UK

The number of children on child protection registers or the subject of child protection plans tells us how many children are known to be at risk of abuse right now.

This is not the same as knowing how many children have been abused.

Research indicates that abuse and neglect are both under-reported and under-recorded.

Below are the most recent figures.

  • Approximately 50,500 children in the UK are known to be at risk of abuse right now.
  • Latest available figures show that there were 50,552 children on child protection registers or the subject of child protection plans in the UK as at 31 March 2011 (or 31 July 2011 in Scotland):
    England: 42,700
    Northern Ireland: 2,571
    Scotland: 2,880
    Wales: 2,401

For a breakdown by category of abuse and for the source of these figures please visit the NSPCC page on child protection register statistics.


Severe maltreatment

  • One in four young adults (25.3%) had been severely maltreated during childhood.
  • Around one in five (18.6%) children aged 11-17 have been severely maltreated.
  • One in seven young adults (14.5%) had been severely maltreated by a parent or guardian during childhood.
  • More than one in eight children aged 11-17 (13.4%) have experienced severe maltreatment by a parent or guardian.


Sexual abuse

  • Nearly a quarter of young adults (24.1%) experienced sexual abuse (including contact and non-contact) by an adult or by a peer during childhood.
  • One in six children aged 11-17 (16.5%) have experienced sexual abuse.
  • Almost one in 10 children aged 11-17 (9.4%) have experienced sexual abuse in the past year. Teenage girls aged between 15 and 17 years reported the highest past year rates of sexual abuse.

sexual abuse statistics pages for more information.

Physical violence

  • One in nine young adults (11.5%) had experienced severe physical violence during childhood at the hands of an adult.
  • One in 14 children aged 11-17 (6.9%) have experienced severe physical violence at the hands of an adult.

physical abuse statistics pages for more information.

Neglect

  • Neglect was the most prevalent type of maltreatment in the family for all age groups.
  • One in six young adults (16%) had been neglected at some point in their childhoods and nearly one in ten (9%) had experienced severe neglect.
  • One in seven children aged 11-17 (13.3%) have been neglected. Almost one in ten (9.8%) have experienced severe neglect.

neglect statistics pages for more information.

Emotional abuse

  • One in 14 young adults (6.9%) experienced emotional abuse during childhood.
  • One in 14 children aged 11-17 (6.8%) have experienced emotional abuse.


Experiencing domestic abuse

  • Nearly one in four young adults (23.7%) were exposed to domestic violence between adults in their homes during childhood.
  • Just under one in five children aged 11-17 (17.5%) have experienced domestic violence between adults in their homes.

See our domestic abuse statistics pages for more information.

Disclosure

  • More than one in five children aged 11-17 (22.9%) who were physically hurt by a parent or guardian did not tell anyone else about it.
  • More than one in three children aged 11-17 (34%) who experienced contact sexual abuse by an adult did not tell anyone else about it.
  • Four out of five children aged 11-17 (82.7%) who experienced contact sexual abuse from a peer did not tell anyone else about it.

Child Abuse Statistics USA – ChildHelp

  • A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds in the USA
  • *More than five children die every day as a result of child abuse.
  • Approximately 80% of children that die from abuse are under the age of 4. 
  • It is estimated that between 50-60% of child fatalities due to maltreatment are not recorded as such on death certificates. 
  • More than 90% of juvenile sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator in some way. 
  • Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education.
  • About 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the horrible cycle of abuse. 
  • About 80% of 21 year olds that were abused as children met criteria for at least one psychological disorder. 
  • The estimated annual cost of child abuse and neglect in the United States for 2008 is $124 billion. 
  • Even when you take population into account, America has one of the worst child death due to abuse rates in the developed world.

Global Statistics From The World Health Organization

Key facts

  • Approximately 20% of women and 5–10% of men report being sexually abused as children, while 25–50% of all children report being physically abused.
  • Consequences of child maltreatment include impaired lifelong physical and mental health, and the social and occupational outcomes can ultimately slow a country’s economic and social development.
  • Preventing child maltreatment before it starts is possible and requires a multisectoral approach.
  • Effective prevention programmes support parents and teach positive parenting skills.
  • Ongoing care of children and families can reduce the risk of maltreatment reoccurring and can minimize its consequences.
  •  According to the World Health Organisation, up to 53,000 children are murdered worldwide each year.
  •  Between 80 and 93 per cent of children suffer some form of physical punishment in their homes; a third are punished using implements.
  •  In 2002, the WHO estimated that 150 million girls and 73 million boys under 18 experienced some form of forced sexual intercourse or violence.
  •  218 million children worldwide are labourers, 126 million of whom work in hazardous environments.
  •  1.8 million are involved in prostitution or pornography and 1.2 million have been trafficked.
  •  Up to 275 million witness domestic abuse annually.
  •  Eight million worldwide are in residential care.
  •  There are 250,000 child soldiers in the world.
  •  According to Amnesty International, 40 per cent of soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo are children. 11,000 have still yet to be disarmed.
  •  One billion children live in countries where it is legal to beat pupils.
  •  Save the Children says a million children worldwide have been imprisoned.

Scope of the problem

Child maltreatment is a global problem with serious life-long consequences. There are no reliable global estimates for the prevalence of child maltreatment. Data for many countries, especially low- and middle-income countries, are lacking.

Child maltreatment is complex and difficult to study. Current estimates vary widely depending on the country and the method of research used. Estimates depend on:

  • the definitions of child maltreatment used;
  • the type of child maltreatment studied;
  • the coverage and quality of official statistics;
  • the coverage and quality of surveys that request self-reports from victims, parents or caregivers.

Nonetheless, international studies reveal that approximately 20% of women and 5–10% of men report being sexually abused as children, while 25–50% of all children report being physically abused. Additionally, many children are subject to emotional abuse (sometimes referred to as psychological abuse) and to neglect.

Every year, there are an estimated 31 000 homicide deaths in children under 15. This number underestimates the true extent of the problem, as a significant proportion of deaths due to child maltreatment are incorrectly attributed to falls, burns, drowning and other causes.

In armed conflict and refugee settings, children are particularly vulnerable to sexual violence, exploitation and abuse by combatants, security forces, members of their communities, aid workers and others.

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