NPCC report highlights the shocking scale of child sexual abuse in the UK and the need for all of us to play our part in prevention

10 January 2024

Today’s report from the National Police Chiefs’ Council is a sobering reminder of the realities of child sexual abuse in the UK.

According to today’s figures, there were 107,000 recorded child sexual abuse offences in 2022.

Responding, Deborah Denis, CEO of the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, said: “While this is a shocking figure in its own right, the sad truth is ‘recorded crimes’ only tell part of the story, and the sexual risk to children is actually far higher – estimates indicate that as many as 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused before the age of 16.

“Harm being caused by those under the age of 18, harm taking place online and harm occurring within the family environment are not new phenomena and I am glad to see this variety of harms being examined through recorded crime data. This report and its many insights highlight the need to tackle the problem of child sexual abuse from multiple angles and in multiple ways – but the one clear take away for me is the urgent need to invest in prevention.”

Donald Findlater, Director of the Lucy Faithfull Foundation’s Stop It Now Helpline said: “While I hope this data helps shine a light on the enormous scale and varied nature of child sexual abuse, I also hope it serves to challenge and inspire the public – each and every one of us – to take play our part in stopping it happening in the first place.

“There is much we can all do – where there are children, there are risks. What are the signs to look out for? What does a family or online safety plan look like? Where can I look for advice, information, support when I have a concern? Child sexual abuse is preventable – not inevitable, but it’s imperative we all play our part.”

From the report:

52% of reported child sexual abuse offenses are carried out by someone under 18.

With the report stating that more than half of child sexual abuse reports are carried out by someone under 18, it is vital that we arm parents and carers with the information and resources to help keep their children safe. We must also support them in helping their children learn about respectful relationships, consent, personal boundaries, and responsibility.

That’s why we launched Shore – our dedicated website for young people with concerns about sexual thoughts or behaviour.

If you’re a parent or carer and you’re concerned about a young person’s sexual thoughts or behaviour, contact our confidential Stop It Now helpline for free advice and support.

Over one-quarter of child sexual abuse takes place online.

The lives of young people are increasingly conducted online, and parents and carers need to be alert to both the opportunities and the risks of the online world. With an ever-closer link being drawn between harmful sexual behaviour and early access to pornography, it is vital that young people have a safe space where they can access clear and accurate information that they can trust.

And why we work hard to deter and intercept those that seek to cause children harm online.

One-third of child sexual abuse takes place in the family environment.

The home is the place where parents have the greatest potential to keep their children safe and be alert to behaviours that might worry them. But this is a complex and sensitive issue and it’s vital people have a place to access support and advice. Our Stop It Now helpline is available for anyone with a concern about child sexual abuse, whether that is a concern about an adult they know socially or professionals, or a concern about a child. A host of information is also available online, including family safety plans, which can increase protection within the home.

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