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13 January 2014, 07:57
The NSPCC is urging parents 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.
262 cases were recorded in Hampshire last year, although figures actually dropped in Dorset.
Last year (2012-13) police forces in England and Wales recorded 5547 child sex crimes against those under-eleven - a near 20% rise on the previous year's figure of 4772.
Hampshire Constabulary recorded 262 of these crimes, a figure which increased by 21 from the previous year's. However, in Dorset, the number dropped from 29 to 25.
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 (pictured) which provides parents of children aged 5-11 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. Over 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.
However nearly half (46%) still haven't tackled the issue with their children.
Sharon Copsey, regional head of service for NSPCC South West, 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 across the UK, 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 915 sex crimes recorded against children under 18 by Hampshire Constabulary last year, 710 were girls.
Detective Superintendent Ben Snuggs is head of Hampshire Constabulary's Public Protection Department. He said:
"No child should have to suffer any form of abuse, whether emotional, physical, psychological or sexual, and protecting children from harm is a responsibility we take very seriously.
"Hampshire Constabulary has invested significant resources into its Public Protection Department which includes the dedicated Child Abuse Investigation unit.
"Following several high profile cases of child abuse, there is a national focus on child safety and what all agencies involved can do to improve the way they work together.
"This is an important area of work for us because it's only in a multi-agency environment that we are better able to identify and safeguard children at risk.
"I would encourage anyone with concerns about the welfare of a child to contact the police either on 101 or 999 if a life is in immediate danger.
"Likewise, if you have concerns about someone you suspect is abusing children, please call us on 101 or 999 in an emergency."
Sharon Copsey continued:
"It's a startling fact that most children are abused by someone they know so it's vital that we communicate to children that it's not right for anyone to touch the places that are private to them, no matter who they are.
"The Underwear Rule is a vital part of this process and is already striking a chord with some parents but we would urge more to get involved."
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)
Privates are private.
Always remember your body belongs to you
No means no
Talk about secrets that upset you
Speak up, someone can help
The campaign complements the organisation's ChildLine Schools Service which is visiting every primary school in the UK advising children on how to stay safe from all forms of abuse.
All other figures are from YouGov Plc. There were two samples used of parents of 5-11 year olds. Fieldwork was undertaken with 500 parents of children aged 5-11 prior to campaign launch w/c 24th June 2013, and with 751 parents of children aged 5-11 between 30th July - 13th August 2013. The field work was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK parents of 5 to 11 year old children. YouGov should be referenced and consulted with for any press releases involving these statistics.
'Recalling the campaign' has been defined as those parents who have definitely seen either the film or guidance for parents or heard a radio advert. The first phase of the campaign was very well received by parents. Our research shows it led to big growths in parents' confidence. Our research shows that of those that recalled the campaign:
- The proportion of parents who felt confident about talking to their child about keeping safe from sexual abuse rose from 68% pre campaign to 81% post campaign
- The proportion of parents who knew what to say to their children to keep them safe from sexual abuse rose from 74% pre campaign to 90% post campaign
- The proportion of parents who had ever spoken to their child about how to keep themselves safe from sexual abuse rose from 46% pre campaign to 64% post campaign.
There's more information on the Underwear Rule here.