There has been a 38% increase in the number of people seeking support having experienced, or are at risk of experiencing, sexual abuse and grooming, according to Barnardo’s.
In the 12 months to March 2017 the charity’s child sexual exploitation services worked directly with 3,430 children, young people, parents and carers. This is up from 2,486 in 2015-16.
Barnardo’s says the sharp increase is down to local authorities recognising that they need to confront the problem of child sexual exploitation head on and commission wider-reaching services to combat child sexual abuse.
Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan said: “Having trained frontline professionals to identify children and young people vulnerable to sexual abuse in their communities, we have seen a huge increase of referrals to our child sexual exploitation services.”
Mr Khan said the charity’s “work with young victims of sexual abuse and exploitation is constantly growing”.
“Along with our efforts to empower children by making them safe from this awful abuse, we are raising awareness across the wider community and schools, equipping them to act where they identify sexual exploitation,” he said.
A government study into tackling child sexual exploitation earlier this year indicated a 24% increase in offences, with police recording 41,000 offences from March 2015-16 compared to 33,000 the previous year. It also estimated that 5% of 11- to 17-year-olds had been physically sexually abused, equating to 50 children in each state secondary school in England and Wales.
The figures reported by Barnardo’s today form part of a wider report on the impact the charity’s work is having in communities. To read that, click here.