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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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Rise in number of children accused of sex abuse

There has been a big rise in the numbers of children accused of sex crimes in Cumbria.

And child protection experts fear that easy access to degrading and violent porn on the internet is giving many of those responsible for the abuse a worrying view of the world.

Statistics today reveal a growing number of children are being accused of attacks including rape on other youngsters in the county, a total of 83 in the last year.

NSPCC data reveals the numbers of childre in Cumbria involved is almost 50 per cent higher than in 2012 – when the figure was 56.

According to the charity, there were more than 8,000 under-18s in England and Wales accused of sexually abusing other children.

However, Cumbria police has welcomed the rise in accusations, insisting it shows an increased confidence in the police.

Most victims knew their alleged abuser and some of the most common crimes were teenage boys abusing female acquaintances. However there were both male and female victims.

Crimes included serious sexual assaults, rape and obscene publication offences.

Iain McKay, service manager for the NSPCC in Cumbria, said: “It’s very concerning that such a lot of children are committing sexual offences including serious assaults and rape. Prevention has to be the key and that is recognising warning signs early and taking swift action.

“We know that pornography for many older children is now part of life. Easy access to hardcore, degrading and often violent videos on the internet is warping young people’s views of what is normal or acceptable behaviour.

“It is also feeding into ‘sexting’ where teenagers are creating and distributing their own videos and images that are illegal and have led to prison sentences.”

Detective Inspector Nick Coughlan, from the Public Protection Unit at Cumbria Constabulary, said: “We take all reports of sexual abuse against a child or young person very seriously, regardless of the age of the offender.

“I am pleased to see that increasing numbers of young people are brave enough to report abuse to us. All reports are treated sensitively and professionally.”

He urged anyone who may be concerned about a child or young person being a victim of sexual abuse to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Despite the worrying statistics, the NSPCC in Cumbria believes its harmful sexual behaviour service – entitled Turn the Page – can turn around offenders’ attitudes. It is offered from the Carlisle service centre and is open to children and young people across

The service is showing great success in helping children and young people change their behaviour and stopping them committing more sexual crimes as they get older.

Mr McKay said: “For very young children, such as those of primary school age or younger, we have to explore and understand the environment in which they are growing up that has led to them behaving in this way.

“It could be that they have seen sexual activity that they are just too young to understand and are copying what they’ve seen.”

Mr Coughlan agreed. He said: “There is an increasing issue of young people ‘sexting’ others, which is where they send indecent images of themselves to someone via mobile phone or the internet. It is important that young people understand that these images can end up anywhere and can be used to bully, harass, or even locate them.

“However, it is equally crucial that young people realise that it is an offence to receive and/or distribute an indecent image of someone under 16-years-old and they can be prosecuted.”

He continued: “We work closely with local schools and partner agencies to talk to young people, educating them about sexual abuse and exploitation.

“Some young offenders may not fully understand the consequences of their actions, and it is important that we educate and support them to prevent re-offending.”

Mr McKay insisted that quick intervention and offering child offenders support can prevent them becoming adult sex offenders.

“Most importantly, their victims need support to overcome what has happened to them,” he added. “Sexual offences, whether committed by another child or an adult, can have lifelong consequences.”

Any adult worried about a child or in need of help and advice can contact the NSPCC’s helpline on 0808 800 5000. Children and young people can contact ChildLine on 0800 1111.

Have your say

James O,

If it's 'normal' in teenagers, then why the rise now?

Posted by Dagsannr on 14 July 2014 at 08:44

I agree with valerie with some of her comments namely smartphones have contributed significantly to both home made and access to the internet,to the usual argumentative PC dagsanarr, my daughter at college has heard pupils shouting across the lobbys to each other "have you seen my latest movie",i am also aware of bucket lists going around colleges involving all sorts of activities,please don't assume teens are goody two shoes,in college they seem to think everything has to be done as quickly as possible only a few sensible ones think twice, most think their in some sort of race,but at the end of the day is'nt that normal in teens.If you want statistics take a look at colleges first.

Posted by James O on 11 July 2014 at 18:55

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