Helpline highlight: the under-reporting of sexual abuse Contacts to the NSPCC helpline 2011-12

Boy standing outsideThis report looks at contacts to the NSPCC helpline between 1 April 2011 and 31 March 2012 about sexual abuse. It considers the dynamics affecting the under-reporting of sexual abuse.

Part of the Helpline highlight series.

Author: NSPCC

  • Between 1 April 2011 and 31 March 2012, the NSPCC was contacted 5,360 times about child sexual abuse. This was 13% of all calls made to the NSPCC (42,755) during that period.
  • 39% (2,071) of contacts about sexual abuse were so serious they had to be referred to social services or the police.
  • 34% (1,800) of the contacts we received about sexual abuse came from parents or carers. This is a higher proportion than for any other type of abuse (18% of contacts about emotional abuse were from parents or carers, 14% for physical abuse and 12% for neglect).
  • The data on contacts to the NSPCC about sexual abuse support the findings of previous studies that children may be more likely to disclose abuse to close family members and friends rather than to professionals.
  • Adults tend to report concerns about child sexual abuse more readily than other forms of abuse but 33% of callers to the helpline waited over a month. This can have potentially devastating effects for the child or young person.
Introduction and key findings 4
What is sexual abuse? 5
What happens when people contact the NSPCC with worries about a child being sexually abused? 8
What types of sexual abuse do people contact the NSPCC about? 10
Case study: Dylan’s story 10
Case study: Katy’s story 13
Conclusion 16

Helpline highlight series

Helpline highlights is a series of reports looking at why people contact the NSPCC helpline and how we help.

View Helpline highlight series

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