Hundreds at risk of child sex abuse ‘still unknown to authorities’

Published February 17, 2015 by JS2

Hundreds of children at risk of sexual exploitation have not yet been identified by the authorities, a new report has warned.

The Office of the Children’s Commissioner (OCC) claims there are wide variations in the rates of child sexual exploitation being reported in different areas across the country, as it reviews efforts to tackle abuse by gangs and groups.

The OCC claims there are wide variations in the rates of child sexual exploitation being reported
The OCC claims there are wide variations in the rates of child sexual exploitation being reported Credit: PA

In one cluster of nine local authorities with similar demographics and deprivation levels, rates varied as much as one in 10,000 children to 65 in 10,000 children.

Fewer than half – 48 per cent – of local children’s safeguarding boards said agencies in their area had identified any victims at all.

Chairman of the inquiry and deputy children’s commissioner, Sue Berelowitz, said while many authorities were making good progress, it often had not yet filtered down to those on the front line.

When we began our inquiry into child sexual exploitation in gangs and groups in 2012, there were a few lone voices around the country desperately trying to help the child victims.

Thankfully, much has improved and many of the agencies which are responsible for protecting child victims have woken up to this damaging crime. However, it is clear that at the frontline much work is still needed.

– SUE BERELOWITZ, OCC

Fewer than half - 48 per cent - of local children's safeguarding boards said agencies in their area had identified any victims at all.
Fewer than half – 48 per cent – of local children’s safeguarding boards said agencies in their area had identified any victims at all. Credit: PA

Campaigns director at the Children’s Society, Peter Grigg, said he hoped the report would serve as a “wake-up call” to police and social services.

It sends a clear message that the time has come to move from plans to real actions to protect children and young people from this horrible crime.

It is shocking that after so many reports, court cases and inquiries on child sex abuse there are still areas of the country where the authorities have no idea how many victims there are.

We have to stop relying solely on children coming forward to report abuse and sexual exploitation. Professionals working with children – the police, teachers, social services and health staff – should pay careful attention to the signs of child sexual exploitation and communicate with each other about it.

They need to listen to children and young people and act with urgency to keep them safe.

– PETER GRIGG, CHILDREN’S SOCIETY

In its latest report, the OCC said it was “worrying” that previous recommendations to improve personal, social and health education (PSHE) lessons in schools, and to make the classes a statutory part of the curriculum, had not yet been approved by the government.

It comes as MPs sitting on the education select committee made similar calls, and recommended sex and relationships should feature as a major component of the classes.

Once again we are calling for age-appropriate relationships and sex education to be made a statutory component of the curriculum.

Young people need to understand what are and what are not healthy relationships.

– SUE BERELOWITZ, OCC
Advertisements

2 comments on “Hundreds at risk of child sex abuse ‘still unknown to authorities’

  • Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

    WordPress.com Logo

    You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

    Google+ photo

    You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

    Connecting to %s

    %d bloggers like this: