Shock figures on child rape

PUBLISHED: 11:41 18 May 2006 | UPDATED: 10:09 06 May 2010

REPORTS of child rape in Herts and Beds topped the 100 mark in 2004-05 and the NSPCC is worried that the reality may be even worse. On Monday, the children s charity launched its Don t Hide It campaign in response to the latest figures from Childline. The

REPORTS of child rape in Herts and Beds topped the 100 mark in 2004-05 and the NSPCC is worried that the reality may be even worse.

On Monday, the children's charity launched its Don't Hide It campaign in response to the latest figures from Childline.

The 24-hour helpline for children and young people, run by the NSPCC, received 8,637 calls about sexual abuse last year and over half of these were reporting

rape.

In the period of 2004-05, Hertfordshire Police recorded 58 rapes of children under the age of 16 and Bedfordshire Police recorded 56, a picture that is repeated across the country.

In all, 86 per cent of the reported rapists were known to the child, 80 per cent of victims were girls and almost all (91 per cent) of the rapists were male.

NSPCC director Mary Marsh said: "A child calls Childline on average once every hour to talk about rape and other types of sexual abuse.

"As terrible as these calls are, the children who phone are those who have found the strength to speak out.

"Many others feel unable to do this.

"NSPCC research shows one in six children will be sexually abused before they reach their 16th birthday but nearly three quarters tell no one about it at the time."

The Don't Hide It campaign is urging children to speak out on all forms of sexual abuse and there is a new website, www.donthideit.com

It aims to help young people build confidence and find out more about this abuse and understand that abuse is never their fault.

The charity has also begun a huge advertising campaign, to inform youngsters that they do not have to put up with sexual abuse and encourages them to inform someone they trust.

Don't Hide It is also appealing to the Government for support.

The NSPCC runs 39 therapeutic services for children who have suffered all types of abuse, one of which is in Hemel Hempstead.

But demand on these services can no longer be met, and the NSPCC is calling for more. For example, Bedfordshire does not have such a centre.

DI Nigel Stone, head of the child protection team, said; "Bedfordshire Police work together with other partner agencies to safeguard children and thoroughly investigates all reports of this nature.

"We have specialist police officers that have undergone training to investigate this type of crime, as well as specially equipped victim liaison suites.

"Our officers are also skilled in providing support to the young victims involved and their families."

A spokesman for Hertfordshire Police said: "Hertfordshire Constabulary treats all cases of rape and other sexual offences involving children extremely seriously and has a number of specialist units with officers trained in investigating this type of crime.

"Working with our partner agencies we are also involved in preventing children from becoming victims of crime and intervene where appropriate to ensure their safety and welfare."

Concerned children, young people and parents can call the NSPCC free 24-hour child protection helpline on 0808 800 8000 and there is more information on the website: www.nspcc.org.uk


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