Sexual abuse of children is now so common in parts of Britain ‘they view it as a normal way of life’ says NSPCC
- New report reveals police recorded nearly 40,000 child sex attacks last year
- NSPCC says sex abuse is ‘a normal way of life’ for some children in the UK
- High-profile sex offenders have made crimes more likely to be reported
- Experts say the number of offences has increased and blame the internet for allowing criminals to ‘indulge their fantasies’
Sexual abuse of children has become so common in parts of the UK that it is seen as a ‘normal way of life’, the NSPCC has said in a shocking new report.
Police recorded a total of nearly 40,000 sex attacks on children last year, the highest number for at least a decade.
The culture of child sex abuse has become engrained in some places, the children’s charity warned, which could complicate efforts to crack down on it.
Experts claim that the internet has fuelled a rise in abuse, because potential sex offenders are now able to ‘indulge their fantasies’ more easily.
Abuse: Some children are so used to sex attacks that they have become a ‘way of life’, the NSPCC says (pictured posed by model)
On the rise: This graph from a new report shows how the number of child sex attacks has increased
In a report titled How Safe Are Our Children?, the NSPCC said: ‘In some areas of the UK sexual abuse has become so common that it is seen by children as a normal way of life.’
The charity pointed to scandal in Rochdale, Oxford and Rotherham, where gangs of abusers were allowed to rape young girls for years without the authorities stepping in.
And the report also highlighted how ‘trusted individuals’ including GP Myles Bradbury and TV presenter Rolf Harris were found to have carried out a string of sex attacks.
In total, police recorded 36,429 sex offences against children in the UK last year, with the vast majority of victims below the age of 16.
The numbers have soared since last year – in England, 39 per cent more offences were reported in 2013/14, the latest year for which figures are available.
Authorities have credited wider public awareness of child sex abuse with making children more likely to report crimes to police.
However, the NSPCC suggested that police figures ‘do not reflect the actual number of offences committed’ because a large number of sex attacks are never reported.
High-profile: Celebrity offenders such as Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris have brought the child abuse epidemic to public attention
Simon Bailey, who is responsible for leading police efforts on child abuse, said that child abuse was becoming increasingly common, partly because of the rise of the internet.
‘Increased reporting means we are dealing with an unprecedented number of investigations but it is my belief that more abuse is being perpetrated,’ he told the Guardian.
‘The internet has given people the ability to sit in their room and indulge fantasies in a way that simply was not available to them two decades ago.’
In the wake of revelations about the sexual abuse carried out by Jimmy Savile and other public figures, New Zealand judge Lowell Goddard is heading a major inquiry into claims of an Establishment cover-up of sex crimes.
Last month it emerged that police are investigating 1,400 men over allegations that they have abused children in the past.
Overall, the number of children at risk of abuse has increased by 80 per cent since 2002, according to the report, with 48,300 on child protection plans.
In England almost half of CPPs were administered for neglect, a third for emotional abuse and 10 per cent for physical abuse. One in 20 were introduced because of sexual abuse.
Research also showed that the number of children being referred to social services in England reached a record high of 570,800 in 2013/14.
Launching the report in London yesterday, NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said Britain faces a ‘watershed moment’ on child abuse.
‘These startling figures must not be ignored,’ he said. ‘The challenges in keeping future generations safe are myriad and complex.’
In a speech, he added: ‘We must ensure that when children and adults speak up about the abuse they suffered, the support they need to rebuild their lives is available. Too often this remains sorely lacking.’
Karen Bradley, the minister for preventing abuse and exploitation, said more and more young people are reporting their experiences of abuse, adding: ‘As much as this is an encouraging sign of the times, it is also an immense challenge.
‘Because reporting that experience to police is never the end of it, because the damage of those experiences is so hard to undo and because it is increasingly clear that far too many children are being damaged in the first place.’
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