Background: Studies conducted internationally confirm that child sexual abuse is a much more widespread problem than previously thought, with even the lowest prevalence rates including a large number of victims that need to be taken into account.
Objective: To carry out a meta-analysis of the prevalence of child sexual abuse in order to establish an overall international figure.
Methods: Studies were retrieved from various electronic databases. The measure of interest was the prevalence of abuse reported in each article, these values being combined via a random effects model. A detailed analysis was conducted of the effects of various moderator variables.
Results: Sixty-five articles covering 22 countries were included. The analysis showed that 7.9% of men (7.4% without outliers) and 19.7% of women (19.2% without outliers) had suffered some form of sexual abuse prior to the age of eighteen.
Conclusions: The results of the present meta-analysis indicate that child sexual abuse is a serious problem in the countries analysed.