Hundreds of children sexually attacked

PUBLISHED: 10:33 21 January 2009 | UPDATED: 12:48 03 July 2010

HUNDREDS of young people - including at least 130 under-10s - were subjected to sexual attacks in East Anglia over the last year, figures revealed yesterday.

HUNDREDS of young people - including at least 130 under-10s - were subjected to sexual attacks in East Anglia over the last year, figures revealed yesterday.

The NSPCC asked every police force in the country for the total number of youths who were victims of sex offences. The results show that more than 20,000 under-18s nationally reported sexual assaults, including rape, gross indecency and incest - and many more may be suffering in silence.

The number of offences recorded against girls was six times higher than the number against boys.

The figures show that there were 319 victims in Norfolk, with 80 aged 10 or under; 253 victims in Suffolk, with 51 aged 10 or under; and in Cambridgeshire there were 189 victims, although no age breakdown was available.

Last night, Norfolk County Council offered reassurances that they would work with the police to ensure that all reported attacks were treated seriously and investigated fully.

Meera Spillett, deputy director of children's services for Norfolk, said: “The welfare of all of Norfolk's children is our paramount concern and whenever there are reports of abuse of any kind we will work, alongside the police and other agencies, to ensure that the allegation is taken seriously and investigated fully.

“Any child who is a victim of sexual abuse will be assessed and offered the support that they and their family may need. We work together with agencies in the voluntary sector to provide counselling and advice for children and young people.”

The Home Office gathers data from police forces for its annual crime report, which shows there was a total of 53,540 for all sexual offences in 2007-08. This report only lists broad age ranges as defined by the recorded offence, such as “sexual assault on a female child under 13”.

The NSPCC says that by mixing adult and children's statistics the Home Office reporting does not provide a clear picture of the number of child victims. Detailed age breakdowns of victims are collected by police but are not passed on to the Home Office.

Director of public policy Phillip Noyes said: “These shocking figures reveal just how young many of the reported victims of sex abuse are, with even one-year-olds being at risk, although the highest numbers of offences were against children in their early teens.

“It's a grim picture but this is only a snapshot, as our research indicates there are many more abused children whose suffering never comes to light.”

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