There is no question that public awareness and concern about child sexual abuse has increased in Australia in recent years. In Queensland, for example, official statistics indicate that the rate of sexual offences reported to police doubled between 1994 and 1998 from about 92 per 100,000 to more than 190 per 100,000. The majority of these offences were committed against children younger than 16 years of age (Criminal Justice Commission 1999).
There is no clear evidence, however, that the incidence of child sexual abuse itself is increasing; rather, increased reporting rates appear partly to reflect a greater willingness by victims and others to report allegations of child sexual abuse. Indeed, many alleged child sexual offences are not reported until long after they have occurred. Nevertheless, there is widespread agreement that child sexual abuse is a major social problem.
This paper suggests that developmental and early intervention programs that are known to reduce rates of general crime may be equally effective in the reduction of sexual crime.