The NSPCC has revealed that across Northamptonshire it referred 117 contacts to police and children’s services from members of the public concerned a child was being sexually abused.
Over the last two years (2015/16 and 2016/17) the charity’s free and confidential helpline referred 117 calls and emails to local agencies in Northamptonshire. There were also a further 56 contacts where Helpline staff gave advice about sexual abuse against young people.
Across the UK in 2016/17 the NSPCC referred 4,677 contacts, an increase of 31% per cent on the previous year, when there were 3,578 referrals made.
John Cameron, head of helplines at the NSPCC explained: “It is deeply worrying that so many children are potentially being exposed to such a devastating experience, but at the same time it also suggests that as a society we are much more alert to the risks and much more willing to come forward and share our concerns.
“Sexual abuse can do huge damage to a child’s life and left untreated will often haunt them long into adulthood. It is therefore vital that anyone who suspects a young person is in danger contacts the authorities or gets in touch with us through our dedicated Helpline.”
To ensure as many of these young people are getting the help they need the NSPCC has launched the ‘Light Up Christmas for Children’ appeal.
A child is sexually abused when they are forced or persuaded to take part in sexual activities. This doesn't have to be physical contact and can happen online, for example through live streaming.
Sometimes the child won't understand what's happening to them is abuse or, in some cases, that it's even wrong.
Children who have experienced sexual abuse may:
- avoid being alone with people, such as family members or friends
- show sexual behaviour that's inappropriate for their age
- have physical symptoms such as a sexually transmitted infection.
One caller who phoned the NSPCC helpline said: “I am concerned that a young girl in the neighbourhood might be at risk of sexual abuse by men who visit the house on weekends. There is lots of drinking that goes on and mum doesn't seem to be too concerned about leaving her alone with them. Mum can be often heard shouting and swearing at the girl and I don’t think she is fit to care for her.”
It is estimated the one in 20 children in the UK has experienced contact sexual abuse. The NSPCC is calling for a UK government-commissioned, nationwide prevalence study on child abuse and neglect – sooner rather than later – so they can understand the true scale of this problem.
To support the NSPCC’s Christmas campaign simply text ‘NSPCC 4’ to 70744 to donate £4, or visit www.nspcc.org.uk. Text costs include your donation of £4 plus your standard network rate. The NSPCC will receive 100% of your donation