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Dec/Jan 2009Vol. 9, No. 10Statistics on Sexually Assaulted Children

The estimated number and characteristics of children who were sexually assaulted in the United States in 1999 are presented in a new bulletin released by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. In the report, Sexually Assaulted Children: National Estimates and Characteristics, researchers David Finkelhor, Heather Hammer, and Andrea Sedlak present data from the National Household Surveys of Adult Caretakers and Youth, which are part of the Second National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, and Thrownaway Children (NISMART-2). This report differs from other sources because it provides data on sexual crimes specifically against children as perpetrated by caregivers and others.

Estimates of the number of sexually assaulted children are based on telephone interviews of a nationally representative sample of children and their caregivers. Some key findings indicate that:

  • In 1999, an estimated 285,000 children were victims of a sexual assault.
  • Sexual assault victims were disproportionally female and ages 12 to 17.
  • Most of the victims were assaulted by a male.
  • Police were contacted in regard to the assault only 30 percent of the time.
  • There are many indications that these incidents are underreported, so exact figures may be higher.

The report also provides the definitions of sexual assault used in the analysis, a discussion of the methodology used, and a comparison of NISMART-2 data with other data systems.

The report is available on the National Criminal Justice Reference Service website: (570 - KB)