The NSPCC is urging parents across Nottinghamshire to protect their children from sexual abuse after obtaining new figures which reveal a huge increase in the number of reported primary school age victims.
Last year (2012-13) police forces in England and Wales recorded 5547 child sex crimes against those under 11 – a near 20 per cent rise on the previous year’s figure of 4772.
Nottinghamshire Police recorded 185 of these crimes, a figure which increased by 70 per cent from the previous year.
On average, at least one in five of all recorded sexual offences against children involve those too young to attend secondary school.
In its continuing bid to help protect children from sexual abuse before it can begin, the NSPCC is re-running its ‘Underwear Rule’ campaign which provides parents of children aged 5-11 years-old with the resources to talk to them about staying safe from sexual abuse.
The campaign, which originally launched last summer, was hugely successful in giving parents the confidence to have an easy conversation about what many originally saw as a difficult area for discussion.
More than 2.3 million people viewed the online video and nine out of ten parents who were aware of the campaign said they now knew how to broach the subject.
Sandra Lescott-Robinson, NSPCC Midlands regional head of services for children and families, said: “Sexual abuse continues to be a terrible scar on our society which won’t heal by itself.
Our campaign has started to make inroads in giving children the protection they need but there is obviously still a long way to go.
“The police figures are disturbing, particularly as many of the victims are so young.
“This highlights the urgent need to tackle this problem from an early age. And parents and carers can play an important role by ensuring their children are armed with the knowledge to recognise the wrong kind of behaviour and keep themselves safe”.
Last year 22,654 sexual offences against under-18s were reported to police with four out of five cases involving girls. The majority of these offences, which included, rape, sexual assault, abuse through pornography and grooming, were committed against children of secondary school age. But some of the victims were only one-year-old.
The figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, show girls are still at least four times more likely to be sexually abused, with 17,837 crimes reported.
Of the 488 sex crimes recorded against children under 18 by Nottinghamshire Police last year, 395 were girls.
Superintendant Helen Chamberlain, head of public protection, said: “Nottinghamshire Police is determined to stop children being abused and exploited and we want to bring to justice to all those who commit such abhorrent crimes.
“We have seen a rise of 80 children who were victims of sexual offences in the last year, compared to the figures in 2012. I believe this is due to a number of reasons. One is following the work that we have done that has hopefully encouraged children who have been abused, who may now be in adulthood, to come forward to tell us what has happened in order for us to help them and bring their offenders to justice.
“There has been a lot of national publicity relating to child sex offences with the Jimmy Savile case and other high-profile people being convicted, which may have encouraged others to report what has happened to them or have given people greater clarity on what is unlawful behaviour. We have also done a lot of proactive work, particularly around the policing of the internet and a campaign around cyber crime.”
The Underwear Rule campaign will be supported by a four week advertising burst on nearly 60 local radio stations throughout the UK and online. There will be supportive materials for parents and the NSPCC has developed an easy-to-remember guide – Talk PANTS – that helps children understand the key points of the Rule. (www.nspcc.org.uk/underwear)