Nearly 30 children a year in Cambridgeshire abused before they start primary school, says NSPCC.
- Credit: Archant
Nearly 30 children who are not old enough to attend primary school were victims of sexual abuse in Cambridgeshire in the last 12 months according to latest figures.
An average of one child is sexually abused every ten minutes, according to the NSPCC, who gathered statistics from police forces across the country.
Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive, said the figures: “Lay bare just how extensive this appalling crime against children has become, claiming multiple victims every hour, some of whom are yet to say their first word.
“Sexual abuse can shatter a child’s life and leave them feeling ashamed, depressed, or even suicidal.
“Now, more than ever, victims need help as soon as possible to help them recover from their ordeals and go on to lead full and happy lives.
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“Government must commit funds to early intervention that better help these children who through no fault of their own are enduring so much pain.”
Statistics found that nationally officers recorded 55,507 child sex offences last year.
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• 29 of these crimes were against children who were under four.
• 188 crimes were recorded against children aged ten and under.
• The number of child sex offences recorded by police in Cambridgeshire was 608 last year.
• Police record crimes including rape, sexual assault, and sexual exploitation.
The NSPCC said online grooming was becoming a major problem with predators reaching multiple children.
The total number of sex offences committed is unknown, as more children may not have come forward because they are frightened, embarrassed, or do not realise that they have been abused, Mr Wanless said.
To cope with the numbers of children coming forward the NSPCC is calling for specialist training for police investigating online child abuse, effective rehabilitation for child sex offenders, and investment in early intervention services to help children recover.
The NSPCC’s “Speak Out. Stay Safe” programme visits primary schools across the UK to help children learn the signs of abuse and what to do if they have been the victim of such abuse.
The charity’s “Letting The Future In” service also provides therapy for children who have been sexually abused, and its “Protect and Respect” programme helps older children and young people who have been, or are at risk of being, sexually exploited.