Statistics on child abuse How many children are abused or neglected in the UK
We don't know exactly how many children in the UK are victims of child abuse. Child abuse is usually hidden from view and children may be too young, too scared or too ashamed to tell anyone about what is happening to them.
However, there are a number of different sources of information, including official government statistics and academic research. These give us an indication of the number of children who are affected by abuse.
There were overidentified as needing protection from abuse in the UK in 2016
Explanation: There were 58,239 children in the UK on child protection registers or the subject of child protection plans on 31 March 2016 (or 31 July 2016 in Scotland). This is based on figures from each UK nation.
For the source of these figures please see our summary of child protection register and plan statistics in the UK (PDF).
See also Indicator 13 in How safe are our children? 2017.
How safe are our children?
Every year we compile the most robust and up-to-date child protection data that exists in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
We set out 20 different indicators to help us identify trends over time and across nations and to answer the question "how safe are our children?".
Below are the main findings of our most recent report published in 2017.
Reports ofagainst children have
Explanation: There were a total of 54,898 sexual offences against children recorded by the police in the UK in 2015/16. Due to data availability, offences for England and Northern Ireland are against children under 18 and offences for Scotland and Wales are against children under 16.
In 2015/16 police in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales recorded the highest number of sexual offences against children in the past decade.
All 4 nations saw an increase in 2015/16 possibly due to an increased willingness to report abuse following recent high profile sexual abuse cases in the media combined with improved police recording.
See also Indicator 4 in How safe are our children? 2017.
Numbers of children in theare
Explanation: In the 2015/16 the total number of children subject to child protection plans (CPPs) or on child protection registers (CPRs) increased in the UK from 57,335 in 2014/15 to 58,239 in 2015/16. The number of children subject to CPPs or added to CPRs increased in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, but decreased slightly in Scotland.
See Indicator 13 in How safe are our children? 2017 and our summary of child protection register and plan statistics for the UK (PDF).
How we use statistics
Compiling data for How safe are our children? is part of our commitment to evidence.
It helps us to understand the child protection landscape which helps us start a conversation about what’s working and – more importantly – what isn’t, and what we can do about it.
Child abuse and neglect statistics
We do not know exactly how many children experience online abuse. But official statistics, research studies and what children tell us, give us a good idea about the abuse they are experiencing.
A child is sexually abused when they are forced or persuaded to take part in sexual activities. Official statistics show the amount of child sexual abuse recorded by authorities in the year.
We do not know exactly how many children are physically abused. But official statistics, research studies and what children tell us, give us a good idea about the abuse they are experiencing.
Neglect is the most common reason for a child to be the subject of a child protection plan or on a child protection register in the UK, but it isn’t always easy to identify.
Official statistics help show us how many children have been identified as being at risk of harm from emotional abuse and research studies give us a better picture of children’s experiences
Child sexual exploitation
Official statistics tell us how many sexually exploited children have been identified by the authorities - but this is only the tip of the iceberg.
Female genital mutilation (FGM)
We don’t know how many girls and women are affected by, or at risk of, FGM in the UK. We can esimate the scale of the problem in the UK by looking at what we know in other countries.
Bullying and cyberbullying
There are no official statistics on the number of children who are bullied. But from research studies and from what children tell us, we know that bullying is an issue that affects almost all children in some way.
There are no official statistics on the number of children who live with domestic abuse. But research studies tell us about children’s experience of living with violence.
We don’t know exactly how many children have been trafficked into or within the UK. Trafficking is a hidden crime and recorded statistics are almost certainly an under-estimate.
Harmful sexual behaviour
Children and young people who develop harmful sexual behaviour harm themselves and others. There are no official statistics that tell us how many children have harmful sexual behaviour and estimates come from research studies.
UK child protection statistics
We don't know exactly how many children in England have experienced child abuse. But official statistics do tell us how many children have been identified as needing support or protection.
Official statistics help tell us how many children in Northern Ireland have been identified as needing support or protection.
We don't know exactly how many children in Scotland have experienced child abuse. But official statistics do tell us how many children have been identified as needing support or protection.
Official statistics help tell us how many children in Wales have been identified as needing support or protection.
Children in care
Each UK nation collects and publishes statistics about looked after children, telling us about where children in care live and why they are in care
Child protection register and plan statistics
Support for professionals
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