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In all jurisdictions (except the Australian Capital Territory) girls were approximately three times more likely than boys to be the subject of a substantiation of sexual abuse.Doyle Peters, Wyatt and Finkelhor (1985) carried out a review consolidating the evidence of several smaller-scale international surveys, and found a range of between 6 and 62 per cent of females and 3 and 31 per cent of males were victims of child sexual abuse, depending on definitions, measures and data collection methods used.Of those abused by someone other than a parent, 20 per cent of the perpetrators were friends or friends of the family, 17 per cent were acquaintances or neighbours, 13 per cent were strangers, 13 per cent were 'someone else known'.

According to Lievore's (2003: 56) recent literature review of available statistics on reported and unreported sexual assaults: 'Anecdotal evidence, case studies and submissions to inquiries support the assumption that sexual violence in Indigenous communities occurs at rates that far exceed those for non-Indigenous Australians.' In response to the frequently asked question of why perpetrators offend, Wurtele and Miller-Perrin (1993: 20) remark that 'the only common denominators appear to be an offender's lack of sensitivity to the child's wishes and needs, along with a willingness to exploit the child's trust for the abuser's own gratification, profit or selfish purposes'.

Tomison (1996) also notes that no single psychiatric disorder has been identified across the majority of offenders.

Stanley (2003) details the even greater difficulties in understanding such abuse in Indigenous communities than in the non-Indigenous population.

She refers to the contribution of past and present trauma experienced by Indigenous people to the present problem of child sexual assault, as well as cultural clashes in child protection.

The mean age of abusers was 34 years, with a median age difference of 24 years from that of the abused individual.

To date, there has been no large-scale national population survey that includes childhood violence against males.

However, concerns have been raised that definitions that specify age difference between the perpetrator and child or young person fail to take into account non-consensual sexual activity between peers (such as sibling sexual assault, and sexual assault and date-rape perpetrated by adolescents).

Despite the widespread view that children are sexually assaulted mainly by strangers, the reality is that most sexual assault is perpetrated by someone who is known to the child, such as a family member, family friend, or person with whom the child comes into contact (Richardson and Bromfield 2005).

In the latest report of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW 2004), 4,137 substantiated cases of sexual abuse were reported nationally over the year 2002-2003.

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