ONE in 14 adults in England and Wales have suffered sexual abuse as a child, according to the first research of its kind.
The Crime Survey for England and Wales, published yesterday, found that 11 per cent of women and 3 per cent of men said they were sexually assaulted during their childhood.
They suggested that 567,000 adult women aged between 16 and 59, and 102,000 men in the same age bracket, had suffered “sexual assault by rape or penetration” as minors.
The findings came after the Office for National Statistics (ONS) introduced new questions about childhood abuse in this year’s survey.
ONS’s crime statistics and analysis department’s John Flatley said: “Police forces in England and Wales have been dealing with a growing number of reports of child abuse in recent years.
“Many of these have been historical cases reported by adults many years after the event.
“These new ONS estimates, based on asking adults to recall abuse experienced during their childhood, provide a more comprehensive picture than has previously been available.”
Apart from physical abuse, women were “significantly” more likely to report that they had been an abuse victim than men, the ONS report found.
Three in four victims of these assaults did not report the incident to police.
Barnardo’s children’s charity head Javed Khan said: “Abuse and exploitation of children must be dragged from the shadows and placed firmly in the spotlight, to prevent future generations of children becoming victims.
“The sheer scale of those who reported witnessing or being abused as children is utterly staggering. It is everyone’s responsibility to keep children safe.”