A protocol on managing children who display sexually harmful behaviour is being developed in Wales after the Cardiff government identified the need for a nationwide response.
Welsh ministers are also working with local authorities to set up three regional hubs to provide specialist services so that all young people have access to support.
The moves follow calls from Keith Towler, the children’s commissioner for Wales, for a more consistent approach to treating children who show sexually harmful behaviour.
Towler described the sparsity of specialist services in Wales as a “big, big problem”. He told the BBC that children in some parts of the country were at a greater risk of sexual abuse from their peers due to a lack of resources in their area.
“There is still a postcode lottery in place,” he said. “That is a big, big problem. Generally, we could be at risk of failing children.
“Unless you are prepared to travel and unless someone is prepared to take a referral from an outlying area, you’re not going to get the resources you need.”
According to the BBC, about one-third of sexual abuse cases against children is carried out by other children or young people. A freedom of information request revealed that four Welsh police forces recorded 243 reports of child sexual abuse by under-18s between 2009 and 2010.
The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) said the safeguarding of children and young people was of paramount importance.
“As part of the new collaborative agenda under ‘Sustainable Social Services: From Vision to Action’, the WLGA is working with the Welsh government and local authorities to deliver three regional hubs which will purchase and provide specialist placements and services for children,” it said in a statement.
“This will enable councils to deliver high-cost, low-volume services, such as those for children displaying sexually harmful behaviour, in a more sustainable way.”
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