Steep rise found in child-on-child sexual abuse

Children’s charity Barnardo’s has revealed a rise of 78 per cent in recorded reports of child-on-child sex offences in England and Wales.

Police figures have revealed that the number of alleged offences reported to police forces in England and Wales rose from 5,215 in 2013 to 9,290 in 2016, with a total of 32,452 reports of alleged sexual offences by children on other children over the four year period – an average of more than 22 every day.

The figures, a result of an freedom of information request by the charity, reveal that the number of reported cases more than doubled in 12 force areas between 2013 and 2016, with Warwickshire seeing a 521 per cent increase, Norfolk 371 per cent and Lincolnshire 345 per cent.

The forces with the highest number of reported offences were the Metropolitan Police (5,470); West Yorkshire (3,192); Greater Manchester (3,024); West Midlands (2,876) and Kent (1,678). Seven of the 43 forces in England and Wales either did not respond or provided only a partial response.

Barnardo’s has again recommended that age-appropriate sex and relationship education (SRE) is made compulsory, as it would ‘better protect children and help them understand consent, respect and what a healthy relationship should look like’.

Javed Khan, Barnardo’s chief executive, said: “We’re deeply concerned more children may be sexually harming other children. We know this can be because they’ve been abused themselves and may not have received the right support to help them recover.

“An estimated third of sexual abuse is carried out by children. Rehabilitating children so they don’t go on to harm others is vital to preventing further sexual abuse. High quality age appropriate mandatory SRE lessons would help children recognise what a healthy relationship should look like.”

Simon Bailey, lead for Child Protection at the National Police Chiefs’ Council, added: “These figures highlight the importance of building resilience in young people and educating them about sexual relationships. This can’t be left to chance.

“I know from my own force that we are engaging with schools more than ever to educate and raise awareness of both the different forms of abuse and how to get support. It is clear from the increase in the number of reports we are receiving how vital this work is.”