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BMC Public Health. 2009 May 11;9:133. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-9-133.

Child sexual abuse in southern Brazil and associated factors: a population-based study.

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Centre for Global Health Research, St Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Canada.



The prevalence of child sexual abuse (CSA) in the population has been poorly described in developing countries. Population data on child sexual abuse in Brazil is very limited. This paper aims to estimate lifetime prevalence of child sexual abuse and associated factors in a representative sample of the population aged 14 and over in a city of southern Brazil.


A two-stage sampling strategy was used and individuals were invited to respond to a confidential questionnaire in their households. CSA was defined as non-consensual oral-genital, genital-genital, genital-rectal, hand-genital, hand-rectal, or hand-breast contact/intercourse between ages 0 and 18. Associations between socio-demographic variables and CSA, before and after age 12, were estimated through multinomial regression.


Complete data were available for 1936 respondents from 1040 households. Prevalence of CSA among girls (5.6% 95%CI [4.8;7.5]) was higher than among boys (1.6% 95%CI [0.9;2.6]). Boys experienced CSA at younger ages than girls and 60% of all reported CSA happened before age 12. Physical abuse was frequently associated with CSA at younger (OR 5.6 95%CI [2.5;12.3]) and older (OR 9.4 95%CI [4.5;18.7]) ages. CSA after age 12 was associated with an increased number of sexual partners in the last 2 months.


Results suggest that CSA takes place at young ages and is associated with physical violence, making it more likely to have serious health and developmental consequences. Except for gender, no other socio-demographic characteristic identified high-risk sub-populations.

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