Child abuse and neglect in the UK today (Radford et al, 2011) is a major piece of NSPCC research which interviewed over 6,000 young adults, adolescents and parents of younger children.
Participants were asked whether anyone had tried to make them do anything sexual whilst they were under the age of 18 years. Parents of children aged under 11 years responded on their child's behalf. Older teenagers and young adults were also asked if they had done sexual things with an adult when they were still under 16 years or with an adult in a position of trust whilst they were still under 18 years.
This research uses a definition of sexual abuse that includes any unwanted sexual activity, as well as criminal sexual activity with an adult, where physical contact took place. It excludes non-contact sexual abuse (such as flashing or saying sexual things) as well as "consensual" sexual activity between adolescents.
The figures below are all based on the reports from young people aged 11-17 years. These reports give us the best picture of the experiences of children today.
From: Radford, Lorraine, Corral, Susana, Bradley, Christine, Fisher, Helen, Bassett, Claire, Howat, Nick and Collishaw, Stephan (2011) Child abuse and neglect in the UK today . London: NSPCC.
* Not in the published report, based on additional analysis of the data.
For a breakdown by nation and the source of these figures please visit our page on child protection register statistics .
England and Wales
From: Office for National Statistics (2013) Appendix table A4 In: Crime in England and Wales 2012/13: findings from the British Crime Survey and police recorded crime (xls).
From: Information obtained by NSPCC from 41 police forces in England and Wales under the Freedom of Information Act. See: NSPCC (2014) Sexual abuse of under-11s: reports to police rise 16% in 2012-13. London: NSPCC.
The Ministry of Justice does not provide a breakdown of sexual offenders against adults versus offenders against children. Therefore these figures include all registered sex offenders.
From: Ministry of Justice (2012) Table 1. In: Multi-agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) annual report 2011/12 (PDF) . London: Ministry of Justice.
Under the Freedom of Information Act, the NSPCC received further information on registered sex offenders from the National Police Improvement Agency.
These figures cannot be compared with the total number of registered sex offenders taken from the MAPPA annual report as they relate to a later date in 2012 and more sex offenders were added to the register in the intervening period.
From: NSPCC (2012) Nearly a thousand registered child sex abusers reoffended . NSPCC press release, 18 November 2012. London: NSPCC.
From: Grubin, Don (1998) Sex offending against children: understanding the risk (PDF). London: Home Office. pp.v-vi and p.26.
From: NSPCC (2013) Harmful sexual behaviour: NSPCC research briefing . London: NSPCC.
Cawson, P. et al (2000) Child maltreatment in the United Kingdom: a study of the prevalence of child abuse and neglect . London: NSPCC.
Horne, L.et al (1991) Sexual abuse of children by children. Journal of Child Law, 3(4): 147-151.
Kelly, L., Regan, L. and Burton, S. (1991) An exploratory study of the prevalence of sexual abuse in a sample of 16-21 year olds. London: Polytechnic of North London, Child Abuse Studies Unit.
Morrison, T. (1999) Is there a strategy out there? In: Erooga, M. and Masson, H. (eds) Children and young people who sexually abuse others: challenges and responses. London: Routledge.
Royal Belfast Hospital and Queen's University of Belfast (1990) Child sexual abuse in Northern Ireland: a research study of incidence. Antrim: Greystone Books.
People convicted of child abuse image offences
Analysis of 284 cases reported in local and national news of people convicted for making, possessing or distributing indecent images of children.
Sexual and physical violence against children in Northern Ireland: a statistical overview of recorded crime 2008–10 (PDF, 393KB)
Analysis of offences recorded by the Police Service for Northern Ireland (PSNI).
Child protection register statistics
Our annual summary of child protection register statistics for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
How to find, understand and use statistics about child abuse
A brief introduction to child abuse statistics.
Comparing child abuse statistics over time and between countries
Explains the issues around looking for trends in statistics over time, within the UK and internationally.
Thousands of young people committing child sex abuse
Findings from an NSPCC FOI request sent to all police forces in England and Wales.