The NSPCC is responding with practical support for anxious parents keen to protect their children from sexual abuse as new figures reveal an increase in the number of reported primary school age victims.
Last year (2012-13) police forces* in England and Wales recorded 5547 sex crimes against those under- eleven-years-old – a near 20% rise on the previous year’s figure of 4772.
On average, at least one in five of all recorded sexual offences against children involve those too young to attend secondary school.
In response the NSPCC is launching the second phase of its ‘Underwear Rule’ campaign which encourages parents of children aged 5-11 to talk to them about staying safe from sexual abuse.
The campaign, which originally launched last summer, was hugely successful in giving parents the confidence to have an easy conversation about what many originally saw as a difficult area for discussion. Over 2.3 million people viewed the online video and nine out of ten parents who were aware of the campaign said they now knew how to broach the subject.
However nearly half (46 per cent)** still haven’t tackled the issue with their children.
Peter Wanless, Chief Executive of the NSPCC, said: “Sexual abuse continues to be a terrible scar on our society which won’t heal by itself. Our campaign has started to make inroads in giving children the protection they need but there is obviously still a long way to go.
“The police figures are worrying because they should be going down not rising, although the ‘Savile effect’ may be resulting in more people reporting abuse.
“Whatever the reason this highlights the urgent need to tackle this problem from an early age. And parents and carers can play an important role by ensuring their children are armed with the knowledge to recognise the wrong kind of behaviour and keep themselves safe.
“The Underwear Rule is a vital part of this process and is already striking a chord with some parents but we would urge more to get involved.”
Last year 22,654 sexual offences against under-18s were reported to police with four out of five cases involving girls. The majority of these offences, which included, rape, sexual assault, abuse through pornography and grooming, were committed against children of secondary school age. But some of the victims were only one-year-old.
The figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, show girls are still at least four times more likely to be sexually abused, with 17,354 crimes reported.
In 2011-12 there were 22,664 offences recorded by 41 police forces in England and Wales. Of these, more than 18,000 involved girls.
The Underwear Rule campaign will be supported by a four week advertising burst on nearly 60 local radio stations throughout the UK and online. There will be supportive materials for parents and the NSPCC has developed an easy-to-remember guide – Talk PANTS – that helps children understand the key points of the
Privates are private.
Always remember your body belongs to you
No means no
Talk about secrets that upset you
Speak up, someone can help
The campaign complements the organisation’s ChildLine Schools Service which is visiting every primary school in the UK advising children on how to stay safe from all forms of abuse.