The prevalence of child sexual abuse in community and student samples: a meta-analysis

Clin Psychol Rev. 2009 Jun;29(4):328-38. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2009.02.007. Epub 2009 Mar 5.


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.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*