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Health Indicator Report of Child sexual abuse, self-reported

All types of child abuse represent a threat to public health. Child sexual abuse is one of eight commonly tracked adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and research into child abuse and neglect (CAN) and ACEs has consistently shown the potential for many negative long-term impacts on health, opportunity, and well-being. Tracking child abuse prevalence is a complicated task and some of the best data available are self-reported retrospective data which gives a more complete view of prevalence over child protective services or hospital data.
Adults in Summit County and TriCounty had a significantly lower prevalence of sexual abuse during their childhood than the state prevalence (~1 in 10 and 1 in 9 vs ~1 in 7).

Self-reported child sexual abuse prevalence (BRFSS, age-adjusted) by local health district, Utah, 2013, 2016, 2018, 2020


Analysis by geography only utilizes age-adjusted adult data collected in the 2013, 2016, 2018, and 2020 BRFSS and not youth/YRBS data.

Data Interpretation Issues

BRFSS (Adults) 1. How often did anyone at least 5 years older than you or an adult, ever touch you sexually? Would you say? 2. How often did anyone at least 5 years older than you or an adult, try to make you touch them sexually? Would you say? 3. How often did anyone at least 5 years older than you or an adult, force you to have sex? Would you say? (Possible answers: Never, Once, More than once; questions refer to the time period before the respondent was 18 years of age) YRBS (Youth) During the past 12 months, how many times did anyone force you to do sexual things that you did not want to do? (Count such things as kissing, touching, or being physically forced to have sexual intercourse.) (Possible answers: 0, 1, 2 or 3, 4 or 5, or 6+) Response options from both surveys were dichotomized into whether or not sexual abuse occurred at all. The responses are subjective, however, the subjective reality is what seems to matter when considering the potential for long-term negative impacts.


Self-reported child sexual abuse data is retrospective data collected from adults via three questions in the Utah BRFSS Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Module and youth via the Utah YRBS tier 2 ACEs and Positive Childhood Experiences (PCEs) questionnaire. Adult prevalence is looking retrospectively at their whole childhood (<18), while youth prevalence only looks back at the previous 12 months.


The number of youth or adults who indicated at least one instance of sexual abuse on the YRBS (2021) or BRFSS (2013, 2016, 2018, 2020).


The total number of youth or adults who provided any response to the sexual abuse question/s on the YRBS (2021) or BRFSS (2013, 2016, 2018, 2020).

Healthy People Objective IVP-38:

Reduce nonfatal child maltreatment
U.S. Target: 8.5 maltreatment victims per 1,000 children

How Do We Compare With the U.S.?

When comparing BRFSS data, the prevalence of sexual child abuse in Utah is higher than nationally (13.9% or ~1 in 7 vs 11.6% or ~1 in 9). National prevalence comes from a 2018 Merrick, et al. study that included 2011-2014 BRFSS data from 23 states, while Utah prevalence is from the ACEs Module included in the Utah BRFSS in 2013, 2016, 2018, and 2020. Source: Merrick, M.T., Ford, D.C., Ports, K. A., Guinn, A. S. (2018). Prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences From the 2011-2014 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System in 23 States. JAMA Pediatrics, 172(11), 1038-1044.

Evidence-based Practices

Promote safe stable nurturing relationships and environments for all children by: *Strengthen economic support for families *Strengthen social norms to connect with and support parents and youth *Enhance parenting skills to promote healthy child development *Promote quality care and education early in life *Intervene to lessen harm and prevent future risk
Page Content Updated On 10/07/2022, Published on 06/21/2023
The information provided above is from the Utah Department of Health and Human Services IBIS-PH web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Thu, 30 May 2024 13:54:23 from Utah Department of Health and Human Services, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: ".

Content updated: Wed, 21 Jun 2023 09:44:55 MDT