World's largest child sexual abuse perpetration prevalence study recommends significant investment in early intervention measures
The first nationally representative research into the prevalence of child sexual offending behaviours and attitudes has shed unprecedented light on sexually abusive behaviours and feelings among Australian men. Released today by UNSW Sydney and Jesuit Social Services, the study reveals that of the community sample surveyed, one in five Australian men reported sexual feelings towards children and/or have sexually offended against children, with one-third of those who have thoughts towards children motivated to access help.
The largest study of its kind ever undertaken globally, Identifying and understanding child sexual offending behaviour and attitudes among Australian men, measures the prevalence of risk behaviours and attitudes regarding child sexual offending among a representative sample of 1,945 Australian men aged 18 to over 65.
The report provides a new approach for measuring and tracking this issue and includes information that can bolster the service responses and attitudinal changes that help keep children safe from harm.
The study found:
around one in six (15.1%) Australian men reports sexual feelings towards children
around one in 10 (9.4%) Australian men has sexually offended against children (including technologically facilitated and offline abuse), with approximately half (4.9%) of this group reporting sexual feelings towards children
the 4.9% of men with sexual feelings who had offended against children were more likely than men with no sexual feelings or offending against children to:
be married, working with children, earning higher incomes
report anxiety, depression, and binge drinking behaviours
have been sexually abused or had adverse experiences in childhood
be active online, including on social media, encrypted apps and cryptocurrency
consume pornography that involves violence or bestiality
Of the men who have sexual feelings, 29.6% of them want help for their sexual feelings towards children, which is 4.5% of Australian men.
The report affirms the importance of the prevention of child sexual abuse, calling on investment from governments and the private sector to address the risk factors contributing to sexual offending and reoffending in order to reduce sexual violence against children.
“The prevalence of abuse revealed in this report is deeply concerning,” Georgia Naldrett, Manager of Jesuit Social Services’ Stop it Now! Australia service said.
The research by the University of NSW and Jesuit Social Servicesinvolved a nationally representative random survey of more than 1900 men aged 18 to over 65. The findings are consistent with peer-reviewed comparative studies from the US and Britain, and previous research on survivors.