Children aged 10 to 14 years were the age group more likely to be victims of sexual offences, ONS statistics have revealed.
The research highlights that The Crime Survey for England and Wales year ending March 2020 estimated that 2.9% of women (618,000) and 0.7% of men (155,000) aged 16 to 74 years experienced sexual assault (including attempts) in the last year.
Of sexual offences recorded by the police in the year ending March 2020, the victim was female in 84% of cases.
The Crime Survey year ending March 2018 to March 2020 combined found:
- men and women aged 16 to 24 years were more likely to be victims of sexual assault in the last year than those aged 25 years and over
- full-time students were more likely to have experienced sexual assault in the last year than people in any other occupation type
- single adults were more likely to have experienced sexual assault in the last year than those who were married, widowed, separated, divorced or cohabiting
- victims of rape or assault by penetration (including attempts) in the last year were more likely to be assaulted by a partner or ex-partner than a family member.
The Crime Survey does not ask those aged under 16 years about their experience of sexual assault, however, data collected from 24 police forces reveals that police recorded crime showed that those aged 10 to 14 years were more likely to be victims of sexual offences.
Females aged 10 to 24 years were disproportionately more likely to be victims of sexual offences recorded by the police. While 5.7% of the population were aged 10 to 14 years, this age group accounted for 24.1% of police recorded sexual offences where the victim was female. One-third of all female victims were aged under 15 years old.
Males aged between 5 and 19 years were disproportionately more likely to be victims of sexual offences. While 6.2% of the male population were aged 10 to 14 years, this age group accounted for 29.5% of police recorded sexual offences. More than half (55%) of all male victims were aged under 15 years.
Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said: “It is horrifying that children aged 10-14 are disproportionately more likely to be victims of a sexual offence, compared with all other age groups. We know that these official figures just scratch the surface, as the majority of victims never disclose their abuse because of the fear and shame they have been forced to feel.
“Child sexual abuse is a horrific crime, causing trauma that can last a lifetime and we know that any child from any community or background can be sexually abused. But too many are slipping through the cracks - including boys, LGBTQ+, disabled and BAME children – who are more likely to miss out on vital support.
“We need an urgent increase in awareness of child sexual abuse among everyone who can play a part in stepping in to protect children - including the public, professionals and night-time workers.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has meant more children have been locked down in unsafe homes where abuse may have been taking place. Now is the time for action - vulnerable children cannot wait any longer for the government to deliver its Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy,” he concluded.
Sexual offences victim characteristics, England and Wales: year ending March 2020