More than one-third of university students have encountered verbal or physical sexual abuse while growing up, a survey has found. The research conducted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong surveyed a total of 2,147 students in all seven local universities. The cases ranged from verbal abuse and being exposed to pornography to actual physical sexual abuse. Commissioned by the End Child Sexual Abuse Foundation, the research surveyed the prevalence of child sexual abuse among university students. Professor Catherine Tang So-kum of the Chinese University's department of psychology, who was in charge of the survey, said the findings were similar to overseas studies. 'This is a problem we should be well aware of, as the number of child sexual abuse cases in Hong Kong is increasing,' she said. Professor Tang noted that the average age of child sexual abuse victims was 12. Only 17 per cent of the abusers were strangers, the survey found. Nearly 40 per cent were friends, 12.3 per cent relatives, 7.5 per cent fathers and 5.8 per cent mothers of the victims. Professor Tang said what worried her most was that only 40 per cent of victims reported their abuse. 'It is worrying because matters relating to sex are still a taboo in Chinese society. 'Added to this, the victims find there is no use in disclosing the experience.' Professor Tang said that 70 per cent of the reported cases were not followed up even if disclosed, and that 4.1 per cent of victims reported being scolded or laughed at. Only 1.8 per cent were referred to social workers for counselling. Only one abuser was jailed, the survey found. 'Most victims just kept the abuse to themselves,' Professor Tang said. She warned that not reporting any form of sexual abuse was a mistake. 'We should speak out. We've got to make it an important topic for society so we can stop child sexual abuse,' she said. According to the Child Protection Registry, a total of 420 cases of child abuse, including 214 physical, 146 sexual, 10 psychological, nine of neglect and 41 involving multiple elements, have been reported between January and September this year. For the whole of last year, there were 409 cases, including 193 physical, 162 sexual, 17 of neglect, 11 psychological and 26 with multiple elements recorded.