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Keywords:

  • Audio-visual computer-assisted self-interviewing (CASI);
  • child sexual abuse;
  • Denmark;
  • national representative youth survey;
  • sexual experiences

Abstract

Aim: To obtain current data about child sexual abuse in Denmark and to assess abused children's own perception of early sexual experiences, which are unlawful according to the Danish Penal Code. Methods: Multimedia computer-based self-administered questionnaires (CASI) were completed by a national representative sample of 15–16-y-olds. Child sexual abuse was defined according to the penal code and measured by questions defining specific sexual activities, the relationship between the older person and the child, and the youth's own perception of the incident. Results: Among 5829 respondents, 11% reported unlawful sexual experiences, 7% of boys and 16% of girls. Only 1% of boys and 4% of girls felt that they “definitely” or “maybe” had been sexually abused.

Conclusion: A relatively high percentage of Danish adolescents have early, unlawful sexual experiences. However, young people's own perception of sexual abuse tends to differ from that of the authorities, or their tolerance of abusive incidents is high. Gender differences were found in factors predicting perception of abuse.