More boys report sexual abuse crimes
More than 500 crimes involving the sexual abuse of children were recorded in Lancashire in just three months, police figures have shown.
Authorities believe the figures show more and more people are gaining the courage to report and discuss what has happened to them.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics show for the first quarter of this financial year, police in Lancashire recorded 44 offences of sexual activity involving a child under 13, a further 142 involving a child under 16, 151 sex assaults on girls over 13 and 67 assaults on girls under 13.
There were 20 sexual assaults recorded on boys over 13 and 18 on boys under 13.
In the same period 22 rapes of girls under 13 were recorded, with 23 rapes of girls under 16.
There were also 23 rapes of boys under 13, and six of boys under 16
The figures are monitored by the NSPCC.
An NSPCC spokesman said: “Operation Yewtree helped give Kimmy Savile’s victims a voice, but it also helped give many other sexual abuse survivors the courage to come forward and seek justice for the abhorrent crimes they were subjected to.
“There is far more emphasis on safeguarding today. Improvements in prevention as well as early detection of child sexual abuse means more children are kept safer than ever before, but we need to do more.
“The NSPCC is asking internet providers to do more to prevent children being at risk online, and we are working with O2 to ensure parents have as much information as possible to help them keep their children safe online.
“We visit schools across the UK to help children understand the importance of speaking out to stay safe when they have concerns, and make sure Childline is always there for children and young people when they need help.”
The figures show an increase in boys under 13 coming forward compared to the same quarter last year.
A spokesman for Lancashire Police said the force was committed to preventing child sexual abuse, helping victims and bringing offenders to justice.
He said: “It is a crime that can affect any child, anytime, anywhere – regardless of their social or ethnic background.
“It involves offenders grooming youngsters and using their power to sexually abuse them. It can take many forms, whether it occurs through a seemingly ‘consensual’ relationship with an older boyfriend, or a young person having sex in return for attention, gifts, alcohol or cigarettes.
“Sexual exploitation is child abuse and, although they may not realise it, it puts the young victim at huge risk of damage to their physical, emotional and psychological health.”
• Contact the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000.