Significant rise in sexual offences against children

PUBLISHED: 06:55 25 October 2018

Victim of sexual abuse encourages others to speak out.

Victim of sexual abuse encourages others to speak out.

Archant

Sex offences against young children in Avon and Somerset have risen by almost 70 per cent in the past year.

There were 173 recorded sexual offences against children aged four to eight last year – compared to 102 in 2015-16, according to figures from Avon and Somerset police.

Children aged four were most at risk last year with 39 reported sex offences.

Chris Cloke, head of safeguarding for the NSPCC, said the figures are ‘shocking’ but stressed they are just the ‘tip of the iceberg’.

He said: “There’s a significant increase in Avon and Somerset which is a cause for concern.

“We also know it’s the tip of the iceberg. We know from experience more sexual abuse happens than gets reported.”

The NSPCC has re-launched its Talk PANTS campaign to encourage parents to talk to their children at a young age.

Chris added: “What we want to do with our PANTS campaign is to encourage parents to talk to children at an early age to prevent it from happening in the first place.

“The younger you can talk to your children about it the better.”

The PANTS campaign provides parents with advice on how to talk to their children about the issue.

The acronym provides key rules to help children, such as – privates are private, their body belongs to them, they have a right to say no, and they should tell an adult they trust if they are worried or upset.

Representatives from the charity have been visiting schools in North Somerset to run Speak Out Stay Safe assemblies.

Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive, said: “We know lots of parents have already used Talk PANTS to speak to their children about the dangers they may face from sexual abuse as they grow up, both in the online and offline world.

“However, the figures we have revealed today show we all need to do more to help young children learn how to stay safe from sexual abuse, these conversations should be as normal as teaching them to cross the road.”

Talk PANTS launched in July 2013 and was previously known as ‘The Underwear Rule’ campaign.

Parents can order a Talk PANTS activity pack from the charity’s online shop at shop.nspcc.org.uk

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