One In Five Adults Abused Before Age Of 16 In England And Wales, Study Finds
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A shocking report claims that one in five adults in England and Wales have been abused before the age of 16.
The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), taken for the year to March 2019, estimates that 8.5 million adults aged between 18 and 74 had been abused before they reached their mid teens.
The kinds of abuse listed range from threats of violence to neglect, with 49,570 children in England and 4,810 children in Wales having to be looked after by a local authority for their protection.
It also included incidents of serious sexual assault, such as rape, estimating that 3.1 million people were victims of sexual abuse before the age of 16 (2.4 million women and 709,000 men) - which equated to one in 13 people in the age bracket.
The study was carried out by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), with the aim, for the first time, of providing a 'more complete picture' of the scale of child abuse in the country.
Speaking about the disturbing findings, Alexa Bradley, of the Centre for Crime and Justice at ONS, said she hopes they will help more victims of abuse to step forward with their story.
She said: "Child abuse is an appalling crime against some of the most vulnerable in society, but it is also something that is little discussed or understood.
"Today's release is ONS' first attempt to fill an important evidence gap on this critical issue.
"Measuring the extent and nature of child abuse is difficult because it is usually hidden from view and comes in many forms.
"Bringing data together from different sources helps us better understand both the nature of child abuse and the potential demand on support services."
But while it estimates the number of adults who had experienced abuse before the age of 16, the ONS made it clear that it does not measure the 'current level' of child abuse in the country.
It does, however, show that the impact of the abuse is not static. The CSEW found that of those who had suffered in their childhood, 52 percent went on to become the victims of domestic abuse later in life - compared to 13 percent of those who had never been abused.
Responding to the report, Andrew Fellowes, public affairs manager at the NSPCC, said it showed how little is known about the abuse being suffered by millions of young people in the UK.
He said: "This report shows how abuse blights thousands of childhoods around the country, and the devastating effects it can have into adulthood.
"But it is also clear from reading this that we simply do not know how many children are suffering right now, hampering our ability to plan and fund services to help them recover.
"It's crucial government conducts a prevalence study so we get a true picture of the scale of abuse in the UK. Only then will we know what services are needed to protect and support abused young people."
The report also found that from March 2018 to March 2019, 19,847 counselling sessions were given to children by Childline in the UK, with abuse cited as the primary concern.
Meanwhile, around one in seven adults who phoned the National Association for People Abused in Childhood helpline said they had not told anyone about the abuse before.