Boys are often overlooked as victims of CSEA (child sexual exploitation and abuse), both in legislation protecting children from sexual violence and in government action plans.
Studies show that girls are more likely to experience CSEA than boys, with 8% of boys and 18% of girls globally estimated to be abused before the age of 18 (Stoltenbourgh et al, 2011). Although in some countries, boys are abused at higher rates than girls (Economist Intelligence Unit, 2020).
It is possible that boys and girls are abused at similar rates worldwide, but that more boys stay silent about their experiences. UNICEF reports that this can occur for many reasons, including: concerns about questions being raised about their sexual orientation, afraid of not being believed, not realising that they have been abused, and thinking that no one will help them (2021).