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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The impacts of child sexual abuse: A rapid evidence assessment

3. Impacts of CSA on wider society

Research shows that CSA can also impact on wider society, through the increased uptake or usage of public services both by victims and survivors and by perpetrators. These public services include the criminal justice system, healthcare system, social services, welfare benefits system and special educational provision.[1]

A study by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) calculated that CSA costs the UK around £3 billion a year (2012/13 prices).[2] Of this total estimated cost, by far the greatest part – around £2.7 billion – was linked to lost labour market productivity due to higher unemployment and lower incomes among victims and survivors. The remainder of this total – around £424 million – was primarily made up of costs to the public purse resulting from the provision of health, criminal justice and child social services.

The NSPCC also attempted to monetise the human and emotional costs of CSA to victims and survivors.[3] They estimated that the human and emotional costs experienced by victims and survivors in the UK amounts to around £38 billion annually (2012/13 prices). Although it is debatable whether any methodology can meaningfully put a price on human pain and suffering, this figure is useful for emphasising how substantial the impacts of CSA are at both a personal and a societal level.

Evidence suggests that additional impacts on wider society include changes in perceptions of institutions in which CSA has occurred among certain groups,[4] and emotional distress experienced by children who accidentally view indecent images of other children online.[5]



  1. One in Four (2015), op. cit.; Sneddon et al. (2016), op. cit.; Maniglio (2009), op. cit.; Price-Robertson (2012), op. cit.; McGrath, S. A., Nilsen, A. A., and Kerley, K. R. (2011) Sexual victimization in childhood and the propensity for juvenile delinquency and adult criminal behavior: A systematic review. Aggression & Violent Behavior, 16(6), pp. 485-492; Ogloff et al. (2012), op. cit.; Kamiya et al. (2016), op. cit.; Cyr et al. (2016), op. cit.; Fergusson et al. (2013), op. cit.; Pereira et al. (2017), op. cit.; Nelson (2009), op. cit.; Saied-Tessier, A. (2014) Estimating the costs of child sexual abuse in the UK. NSPCC; Biehal at al. (2014) op. cit.
  2. Saied-Tessier (2014), op. cit.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Mancini and Shields (2014), op. cit.
  5. Jutte, S. (2016) Online child sexual abuse images: Doing more to tackle demand and supply. NSPCC
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