Charity warns of rise in child abuse

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The number of child sex offences reported in Bedfordshire rose to 404 in 2014-15, according to figures obtained by the NSPCC.

It compared to 285 the previous year as the charity called on the Government to increase funding for support services for children who suffer abuse.

In England and Wales, the figure soared by a third to 41,457 over the same period with recorded crimes including rape, grooming and sexual assault. These latest statistics from a Freedom of Information request to Bedfordshire Police reveal there were 307 female victims, compared to 110 male. A total of 133 were aged 10 and under – 29 of who were too young to go to school.

These figures may only reveal a small part of the whole picture as many children are afraid to speak up. And a recent NSPCC report also revealed that some young victims say they are not believed when they report sex crimes to police.

It is unclear why there has been such an increase in recorded offences. However:

>Police forces may have improved their recording methods or become more vigilant about sex crimes.

>Survivors might feel encouraged to speak out following high-profile cases and greater awareness.

>And online grooming is becoming a major problem.

With such a dramatic increase in recorded sex crimes, the NSPCC says there has never been a greater need for therapeutic help for victims. The charity’s It’s Time campaign is calling on the government to increase funding for support services for children.

Colin Peak, NSPCC Regional Head of Service for East of England said: “Sexual abuse can shatter a child’s mental health. It can leave them anxious, depressed and even suicidal. That is why it is crucial every single child who has endured abuse and needs support must get timely, thorough help so they can learn how to handle disturbing emotions and behaviours and rebuild their lives. Our It’s Time Campaign demands that government make the mental health of abused children a priority so that some of the most vulnerable members of our society can start to recover.”