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Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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Child sex abuse reports hit record high

This news post is about 7 years old

Charity calls for comprehensive national approach to prevention

The number of cases of child sex abuse being reported in Scotland reached a record high last year.

Figures released today show that 4,368 cases were reported to the police in 2015-16 equivalent to 12 offences being recorded every single day.

That’s up a staggering 40% from just four years earlier when in 2011-12 3,049 reports were made and up by 286 on 2014/15.

The Police Scotland figures were released following a request by NSPCC Scotland.

The charity is calling for a comprehensive national approach to preventing child sexual abuse as well as better and more consistent support for children who have been sexually abused.

Specific data on ages of victims is not available from Police Scotland but figures show sexual assaults of young girls as well as taking and distributing indecent images of children, were among the most commonly recorded offences, while instances of communicating indecently with a younger child also increased from 165 to 199 in 2015-16.

It is unclear why the number of cases reported has dramatically increased although the NSPCC believes a number of reasons including the police improving recording methods and survivors feeling more confident in disclosing abuse following high-profile cases, could explain it.

It has warned that the reported figures could just be the tip of the iceberg as the total number of sex offences committed is unknown, as more children may not have come forward because they are frightened, embarrassed, or do not realise that they have been abused.

“These figures speak for themselves regarding the extent of this problem and the urgent need to protect children against these appalling crimes,” National head for NSPCC Scotland Matt Forde said.

“Sexual abuse can shatter a child’s life and leave them feeling ashamed, depressed, or even suicidal. Victims of abuse display great courage in coming forward and so we need to make sure they have access to timely and appropriate support to help them overcome their trauma.

“Child sexual abuse is preventable. It is a public health priority and so we urge the Scottish Government to develop a national, consistent and evidence-based approach to preventing child sexual abuse.”

The number of recorded offences in England, Wales and Northern Ireland also rose in 2015/16 bringing the UK total to 55,507 last year – a jump of almost a fifth.