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Child Sex Abuse: 2,409 Victims Confirmed In England

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CHILD ABUSE
A study has found 2,409 children and young people were confirmed victims between August 2010 and October 2011 | Alamy

Thousands of children each year are being sexually exploited by gangs in England "who humiliate, violate and control them", according to an interim report.

Figures published midway through a two-year inquiry, which was ordered by the government, found 2,409 children and young people were confirmed victims between August 2010 and October 2011.

A further 16,500 children were at "high risk" of sexual exploitation between April 2010 and March 2011, the Office of the Children's Commissioner probe revealed.

The report - entitled "I thought I was the only one. The only one in the world" - comes after nine Asian men who groomed white girls as young as 13 in Rochdale with drink and drugs were jailed at Liverpool Crown Court in May.

Judge Gerald Clifton told the defendants one of the reasons they targeted their victims was because they were not part of their community or religion.

Two months ago, documents emerged which allegedly showed agencies in Rotherham were aware of allegations of widespread targeted abuse of teenage girls in the town by groups of Asian men.

However, the report's leader, Deputy Children's Commissioner Sue Berelowitz, said the "model" of Asian men targeting white girls was just one of "a number of models", and warned that if investigators concentrated on those patterns, victims could fall through the net.

She said: "The reality is that each year thousands of children in England are raped and abused by people seeking to humiliate, violate and control them.

"The impact on their lives is devastating. These children have been abducted, trafficked, beaten and threatened after being drawn into a web of sexual violence, sometimes by promises of love and sometimes simply because they know there is no alternative.

"This abuse and violence can be relentless and take place anywhere - as they go home from school, as they walk to the shops, in their local park.

"The vast majority of the perpetrators are male and, in both gang and group contexts, different models of exploitation have been identified.

"Perpetrators range in age from young adolescents to older men. The evidence is clear that they come from all ethnic groups and so do their victims - contrary to what some may wish to believe.

"This report does not shy away from the shocking realities of what is happening up and down the country.

"It is vital agencies improve the information they share about the victims and those at risk of sexual exploitation, so that children can be better protected."

At a home affairs select committee hearing in June, Berelowitz shocked MPs by telling them girls as young as 11 are being forced into horrendous sex acts in "every town, village and hamlet"

A spokesman from the End Violence Against Women Coalition said: "Today's report uncovering the scale of sexual exploitation of children by groups and gangs in this country is horrifying.

"If we are to tackle a culture of sexual violence and prevent abuse in the long term then we have to start with young people. We are calling on the government to take action to ensure that all schools address issues such as sexual consent, discriminatory attitudes to women and boys' use of pornography which informs and shapes harmful social and sexual attitudes.

"Compulsory Sex and Relationships Education is vital and so is ongoing training for teachers and social workers so that they are able to identify and respond properly to the signs of abuse.

"It is also abundantly clear from the report that too many victims of sexual exploitation are not getting the support they need from statutory agencies and this may be particularly the case for black and minority ethnic girls.

"Central and local government must work together to make sure that no child is left without support from specialist women's services to enable them to leave abusive relationships and rebuild their lives."

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