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Reports of child-on-child sex offences rise 80% in three years

Barnardo’s warn of next major child protection issue

Recorded cases of children committing sexual offences against other children rose by 78 per cent in England and Wales between 2013 and 2016, research by Barnardo's reveals.

The number of alleged offences reported to police forces in England and Wales rose from 5,215 in 2013 to 9,290 in 2016. In total, there were 32,452 reports to police of alleged sexual offences by children on other children over the four year period.

Barnardo's say that the true number is likely to be higher because seven of the 43 forces in England and Wales either did not respond or provided only a partial response.

The figures, obtained by Barnardo's under Freedom of Information rules, reveal the number of reported cases more than doubled in 12 force areas between 2013 and 2016. In Warwickshire there was a rise of 521 per cent. Norfolk saw an increase of 371 per cent and the rise in Lincolnshire was 345 per cent. The forces with the highest number of reported offences were the Metropolitan Police (5,470); West Yorkshire (3,192); Greater Manchester (3,024); West Midlands (2,876) and Kent (1,678).

Last summer Barnardo's warned that child on child sexual abuse threatened to become the next major child protection issue. It backed calls for a national inquiry to examine the issue and urged government to develop a national strategy to tackle it.

Barnardo's also believes that age-appropriate compulsory sex and relationship education (SRE) would better protect children and help them understand consent, respect and what a healthy relationship should look like.

Barnardo's Chief Executive, Javed Khan said:

"Barnardo's warned last year that unless child-on-child sexual abuse is dealt with head on, it may become the next scandal in our society. These results are another wake up call to the extent of the problem.

"We're deeply concerned more children may be sexually harming other children. We know this can be because they've been abused themselves and may not have received the right support to help them recover.

"An estimated third of sexual abuse is carried out by children. Rehabilitating children so they don't go on to harm others is vital to preventing further sexual abuse. High quality age appropriate mandatory SRE lessons would help children recognise what a healthy relationship should look like."

For Barnardo's press release, click here.