23 Jun 2012

Sexually abused children more likely to become criminals

9:10 am on 23 June 2012

A study conducted covering almost half a century in Australia has found people who are sexually abused as children are five times more likely to commit a criminal offence as adults.

The study of more than 2700 child sexual abuse victims by the Institute of Criminology goes back 45 years. It found a strong link between childhood abuse and adult criminality.

The ABC reports this is the largest study of its kind carried out in the world and has followed the lives of young sexual abuse victims from as far back as 1964.

Author Margaret Cutajar says the majority of abuse victims do not offend in later life.

But she says that child sexual abuse victims who do have contact with police are more likely to commit a violent or sexual offence.

"The study also found that child sexual abuse victims are more likely to be victims of abuse later in life.

The ABC reports between 5% - 10% of all children are subjected to severe sexual abuse.