A small study of children brought up by lesbian couples found that not one reported any sexual or physical abuse.

The research comes from the longest-running study into lesbian parenting, carried out by the UCLA’s Williams Institute. The study is now in its 24th year.

Researchers asked the 17-year-old daughters and sons of lesbian mothers about sexual abuse, sexual orientation and sexual behaviour.

Not one of the 78 young people said they had ever been physically or sexually abused by a parent or other caregiver.

In contrast, larger studies of American adolescents have found that 26 per cent say they have been physically abused and 8.3 per cent say they have been sexually abused by a parent or caregiver.

Of the 78 brought up by lesbian couples, 2.8 per cent described themselves as gay or lesbian. While none of the girls identified as exclusively lesbian, almost 20 per cent rated themselves as being bisexual to varying extents.

The study’s authors, Nanette Gartrell, Henry Boss and Naomi Goldberg, wrote: “A key finding in the current study was that none of the . . adolescents reported physical or sexual abuse by a parent or other caregiver. This finding contradicts the notion, offered in opposition to parenting by gay and lesbian people, that same-sex parents are likely to abuse their offspring sexually.

“The absence of child abuse in lesbian mother families is particularly noteworthy, because victimisation of children is pervasive and its consequences can be devastating.”

They concluded that the findings have implications for healthcare professionals, policymakers and child protection experts “who seek family models in which violence does not occur”.