Hundreds of children victims of sex attacks
PUBLISHED: 12:01 28 January 2010 | UPDATED: 11:38 25 May 2010
MORE than 600 sex assaults were carried out against children in Avon and Somerset police force area last year – including nine attacks on toddlers.
MORE than 600 sex assaults were carried out against children in Avon and Somerset police force area last year - including nine attacks on toddlers.
The shock figures released by the NSPCC show there were 628 sex offences against young people in the region in 2009.
Nine of the attacks involved three-year-old toddlers and 14 involved children aged four to nine.
And it showed girls are more than six times more vulnerable to the abuse, with 545 of the reported offences against the females.
But this week ChildLine, which receives calls about such incidents, warned that many more child sex attacks may be going unreported.
South West assistant director Denise Robertson said: "Sex attacks on young people happen a lot more than communities think.
"There is a clear misconception that the abuse is carried out by a stranger, but this is rarely the case.
"What we know is abuse against children is actually mostly carried out by someone the victim knows or is related to.
"It is extremely difficult to suspect a sexual offender and obviously worrying for children's charities."
The NSPCC statistics, obtained from each police force in the country, showed there were 60 sex offences against children reported in the UK every day.
The young people were victims of sex crimes including rape, gross indecency and incest on 21,818 occasions.
NSPCC director of strategy and development Phillip Noyes said: "These figures show just how many children are still being sexually abused every day.
"It's a shocking picture - even more so because these are only offences reported to the police. We believe the true extent of the problem is far worse.
"Some of these children are so young they can't tell anyone what is happening. "So it's vital that adults look out for them and call the NSPCC helpline or contact police and social services if they are concerned."
Anyone who wants to report a child abuse case should call ChildLine on 0800 1111.