NSPCC Says Child Sex Abuse Soars During Lockdown

NSPCC Says Child Counselling For Sex Abuse During Lockdown Soars.

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NSPCC Says Child Counselling For Sex Abuse During Lockdown Soars.

NSPCC calls for urgent action to tackle the crisis of sex abuse in children as the numbers increase.

  • More than 73,500 child sex offences were recorded by police across the UK in 2019/20.
  • Childline counselling sessions about sexual abuse in the family triple during lockdown.

THE PSNI recorded an average of six child sex offences every day last year, new figures from NSPCC Northern Ireland reveal.

Across the UK, there were 73,518 recorded offences including rape, online grooming and sexual assault against children in the UK in 2019/20 – up 57% in the five years since 2014/15.

Figures from the PSNI obtained by NSPCC Northern Ireland reveal that in 2019/2020, there were 2,082 recorded offences against children under 18 years of age – up 37% in the five years since 2014/15.  

A total of 44 out of 45 police forces across the UK provided the NSPCC with the latest data on sexual offences against under 18s after a Freedom of Information request. The PSNI provided data to NSPCC Northern Ireland directly.

The charity said the figures on child sexual abuse show the need for the government to deal with the “hidden harms” of the pandemic and ensure support for children who have experienced sexual abuse is embedded in recovery planning.

This should include the expedient establishment of a cross-departmental strategic framework to support a collaborative response to child sexual abuse in Northern Ireland as recommended by the Criminal Justice Inspection (CJI). 

The NSPCC is calling for the needs of children and young people to be at the centre of how authorities respond to child sexual abuse, with a focus on effective prevention and victims having access to timely and specialist support.

NSPCC Chief Executive Peter Wanless said: “The crisis of child sexual abuse is not going away and behind these figures are thousands of children and young people who have reported crimes that can have a devastating impact on their lives.

“Urgent action is needed to prevent abuse and to ensure children are supported to recover when they bravely speak out.  

“We need concerted leadership from governments across the UK to implement strategies on tackling child sexual abuse that put the experiences and needs of children at their heart and are effective in preventing abuse and helping young people recover.”  

The call comes as an NSPCC report found contacts from young people to Childline about sexual abuse in the family tripled during lockdown.

The report published today (Monday, August 10) – ‘The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on child welfare: sexual abuse’, shows there were an average of 23 contacts to Childline per week about child sexual abuse in the home, up threefold since March 23 when lockdown was announced.

Some children told Childline that sexual abuse had become more frequent during lockdown, as they were spending more time with their abuser.

One 17-year-old girl said: “It started during lockdown, about seven weeks ago. Dad touched me and got me to touch him. Today he came into my room and removed his trousers and asked me to do something to him and I did it. I don’t want to live here anymore.

“I feel I should tell social services about how abusive dad is, but I don’t feel ready to tell them about the sexual abuse part.”

A third of counselling sessions were about abuse in the family that happened over a year ago, with many children talking about it for the first time.

A 15-year-old girl told Childline: “My dad touched me sexually when I was younger and now I have to be home all the time with him and I can’t deal with it. Just being in the house with him is so hard. I am constantly reminded of what he did.”

Anyone concerned about a child can contact the NSPCC Helpline for advice on 0808 800 5000. Adult victims of non-recent sexual abuse can also get in touch for support.

Childline is available for young people on 0800 1111 or at: www.childline.org.uk