Fears over toll of child sex victims

A CHILDREN’S charity chief has labelled the rate of child sex offences in South Yorkshire as a “real concern.”

Statistics produced show that between 2009 and 2010, 411 youngsters were sexually abused in the county.

Of those, 149 were aged between five and 11 and 27 victims were aged four or under.

The figures also show for the first time the number of young people accused of committing child sex offences.

According to the statistics, 28 known South Yorkshire suspects were under 18.

The figures were produced by the police as a result of a Freedom of Information request by the NSPCC

Gordon Ratcliffe, head of the charity in Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “Thousands of people come forward every year to report sex crimes against children.

“But many victims are too young to ask for help. Others are too scared to tell anyone about their suffering until years later.

“The rise in recorded sex offences against children in South Yorkshire is a real concern and we need to find ways to help victims and change the behaviour of young offenders.”

Police in England and Wales recorded a child sex crime every 20 minutes last year, with more than than 23,000 offences, including rape, incest and gross indecency being logged in 2009-10.

Most reports concerned children aged 12-15 years old, however more than 1,000 victims were pre-school age and one in four were aged 11 or under.

The NSPCC used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the data from all 43 police forces in England and Wales–\!q for the third year running.

The figures show a rise in the number of recorded offences from 20,698 in 2007-08 to 23,390 in 2009-10.

The children’s charity said that this data helped to show which children were at most risk and from whom and should allow local authorities to find better ways to protect children.

Mr Ratcliffe added: “Across England and Wales more than 2,000 suspects in these cases were under 18. 

“It’s clear we need more services that address the harmful sexual behaviour of young people, as well as adult offenders.

“This year the NSPCC is launching two UK-wide programmes to help prevent young people from sexually harming others.

“A third programme will test different therapies for helping children recover from sex abuse.

“We urge everyone to be vigilant and report any concerns they have about a child.”