Police in England and Wales recorded a child sex crime every 20 minutes last year, according to NSPCC research published today.
More than 23,000 offences, including rape, incest and gross indecency, were logged over the course of 2009-10, the research said. This showed an 8% increase on the previous year.
The figures also show that nearly a quarter of known suspects in these cases were under 18.
Jon Brown, NSPCC child sex abuse lead, said this figure was a wake-up call for the sector.
“More than 2,000 suspects in these cases were under 18, making it clear that we need more services that address the harmful sexual behaviour of young people, as well as adult offenders,” he said.
Brown said the NSPCC is responding with the launch of two UK-wide programmes to help prevent young people from sexually harming others. A third programme, he said, will test different therapies for helping children recover from sex abuse.
“Thousands of people come forward every year to report sex crimes against children, but many victims are too young to ask for help,” Brown said. “Others are too scared to tell anyone about their suffering until years later.
“The rise in recorded sex offences against children is a real concern and we need to find ways to help victims and change the behaviour of young offenders.”
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