Why 1 in 10? A New Statistic For A New Era

Categories: Our Perspective


The statistic that 1 in 10 children will experience sexual abuse before their 18th birthday is one of the most staggering statistics we have regarding the impact of child sexual abuse. This statistic is different than the widely accepted “1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys.”

We are often asked, “Why are you using a different statistic?” Let’s take a look at the answer to that and other frequently asked questions regarding 1 in 10.

I read that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused. What changed?
The 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys statistic came from a study published by the Centers for Disease Control over 20 years ago. A more current, accurate statistic was needed. Darkness to Light researched and published a paper in 2013 outlining a new estimate for the prevalence of child sexual abuse, which determined through a review of child sexual abuse studies that the prevalence numbers are closer to 1 in 10 children.

How is this accurate if most child sexual abuse goes unreported?
Instead of using reporting data, researchers in the selected studies surveyed 17-year-olds, older youth who could report on all stages of childhood.

So, does that mean 1 in every 10 children is being sexually abused?
Actually, it means that 1 in every 10 children either has experienced abuse, is experiencing abuse, or will experience abuse by the time they are 18.

Does this statistic include all types of child sexual abuse?
It only includes abuse with physical contact – the most studied and objective form. It does not include peer abuse, only abuse by older youth and adults.

How can I learn more?
Visit www.D2L.org/5Steps to learn how to make your community safer for children. Already know the 5 Steps? Take Stewards of Children® prevention training to expand your understanding and take your prevention efforts to the next level.

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