We revisit our previous work on child abuse in Kuwait, with a focus on the sexual abuse data, and discuss the findings in the context of the local culture. In 2006, a nationwide sample of 4467 senior high-school students (mean age 16.9; 48.6% boys) at government secondary schools was studied. Over their lifetime, 8.6% had been sexually attacked, 5.9% had experienced someone threatening to have sex with them, 15.3% had experienced unwanted sexual exposure, and 17.4% had had someone touch their sexual parts (boys 21.1%, girls 14.0%; P < 0.001). Most perpetrators were members of the extended family. The way to assist ‘dysfunctional families’, where ‘family honour’ and the need for peaceful relations with neighbours have priority over the mental health of female victims, is to propagate the finding that child sexual abuse has a wide-ranging deleterious impact on psychosocial functioning.