Estimating the costs of child sexual abuse in the UK A calculation of the costs of providing services to children affected by sexual abuse

Boy outsideThis report attempts to calculate the overall costs of child sexual abuse in the UK. It estimates that child sexual abuse cost £3.2bn in 2012.

It uses research literature to calculate the number of victims who are affected by the different issues, and uses published current costs for the service provision. It sets out the assumptions that have been made, the costs that have been excluded from the calculations, and the limitations of the available data.

Author: Aliya Saied-Tessier
Published: 2014

This report estimates that child sexual abuse cost £3.2bn in 2012.

The costs of child sexual abuse come from:

  • health (mental health problems and adult physical health problems from alcohol and drug misuse)
  • criminal justice service (dealing with both the sex offenders and also victims of child sexual abuse who become involved in criminal activity)
  • services for children (children’s social care)
  • loss of productivity to society (unemployment or reduced earnings).

It is difficult to calculate exact costs because child sexual abuse can take a number of different forms, and can affect victims in a number of different ways. We also do not know exactly how many children experience sexual abuse.

The report uses research literature to calculate the number of victims who are affected by the different issues, and uses published current costs for the service provision. It sets out the assumptions that have been made, the costs that have been excluded from the calculations, and the limitations of the available data.

Introduction  4
Background  6
Prevalence costs vs. incidence costs  6
The literature  7
Methodology  9
Approach  10
Impacts of child sexual abuse  11
Prevalence of child sexual abuse  13
Costs  16
Results  19
Human and emotional costs  20
Caveats  22
Conclusion  23
Appendices  25
Bibliography  38

Please cite as: Saied-Tessier, A. (2014) Estimating the costs of child sexual abuse in the UK. London: NSPCC.

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