Nearly 1 in 3 children tried to tell someone about sexual abuse

A major inquiry conducted by the Office of Children’s Commissioner for England finds that only a tiny minority of children who are sexually abused within the family are helped by professionals. Around 50,000 cases of child sexual abuse were recorded by the police and social workers across the two years to March 2014, though the Children’s Commissioner estimates the true incidence of abuse during this period to be between 400,000 and 450,000 children.

A survey of 756 adults sexually abused as children found 31% had tried to tell someone about the abuse. Of those who reported how many people they had tried to tell (n=226), 20% of children had told more than five or many. The top three categories of people told about abuse were mothers, friends and teachers.

Of 220 people who answered a question about whether the abuse stopped after they told someone, just 22% (48) said it stopped completely and 40% said the abuse remained the same. One in five children said the abuse worsened after they had told someone.

One of the inquiry’s recommendations is that schools provide compulsory lessons about healthy and safe relationships and give children information about seeking help from professionals if they are abused. Article 39 fully supports this and would further recommend that a single and highly publicised national child protection telephone number be introduced, whereby children can be directed to their local authority child protection services 24 hours a day, akin to the 101 police number.

Read the inquiry report.