PROSECUTIONS for sexual crimes against women and children are at an all time high according to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and children are becoming increasingly at risk of sexual abuse through online activity according to NSPCC research, which has been published today, Thursday (Aug 30). The research suggests that one child in every primary school class has been sent a sexual image by an adult.

What the NSPCC research found:

  • 1 in 20 children in the UK have been sexually abused
  • Over 2,900 children were identified as needing protection from sexual abuse in 2015/16
  • 1 in 3 children sexually abused by an adult did not tell anyone
  • Over 90% of sexually abused children were abused by someone they knew
  • Around a third of sexual abuse is committed by other children and young people
  • 14% of contacts to the NSPCC’s helpline last year were concerns about sexual abuse
  • Over 8,000 contacts to the NSPCC’s helpline last year were concerns about sexual abuse
  • There were over 9000 counselling sessions with children and young people who talked to Childline in 2016/17 about sexual abuse
  • There were over 2,100 counselling sessions with young people who talked in Childline about online child sexual exploitation (CSE) in 2016/17
  • Disabled children are more likely to be abused than non-disabled children
  • Over 63,000 sexual offences against children were recorded by the police in the UK in 2016/17
  • Nearly 30,000 registered offenders have been convicted of offences against children

In another report by the CPS, Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) it was claimed that there was a significant rise in sexual offences against women and girls. According to the report the number of prosecutions brought for sexual offences has also risen to its highest level ever, jumping 22.5 per cent on last year (2017). It is the tenth CPS (VAWG) annual report and covers violence against women and girls including; child abuse; domestic abuse; forced marriage; harassment; honour-based violence; human trafficking; pornography; prostitution; and rape and sexual offences.

What the CPS report found:

  • sexual offences range from non-consensual sexual touching to serious sexual assault
  • convictions for rape, domestic abuse, sexual offences and child abuse have reached a record level

Figures released by the Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics (CSEW) also make for startling reading.

What the CSEW report found:

  • one in 25 children aged seven to 11 told researchers an adult had sent them a naked or semi-naked picture or video on an app, site or game
  • one in 20 secondary pupils aged 11 to 16 said they had received such an image
  • equivalent to one in every secondary class, according to the survey of nearly 40,000 children
  • The year ending March 2017 (CSEW) estimated that 12.1% of adults aged 16 to 59 have experienced sexual assault (including attempts) since the age of 16, equivalent to an estimated 4 million victims
  • Those aged 16 to 19 and aged 20 to 24 were significantly more likely to be victims of sexual assault in the last 12 months than any other age group. This was true for indecent exposure or unwanted touching

The activities of children online is coming in for closer scrutiny with some calling for a regulator to intervene. When confronted with further statistics like the fact that one in 50 primary and secondary children admitted they had sent a nude or semi-nude picture to an adult it raises concerns that ronline grooming is far more extensive than previously thought.

Writing in the Telegraph today, Thursday (Aug 30) Peter Wanless said:

“Many children will be returning to school this week. If we think back to our own school days, many of us will have fond memories of playground games, jumpers for goalposts and hand-clap rhymes. And perhaps some less fond memories of times-tables, handwriting exercises and getting caught passing notes.

“Today’s children have all that to enjoy, but their world is bigger. They have online learning, funny photo filters, gaming apps and texting. There are huge positives to having the world at your fingertips, but these opportunities also come with risks.”

Some are claiming that the internet has enabled offences, with defendants in controlling or coercive cased relying on “tactics such as GPS tracking and monitoring phone or email messages.

Information from the Home Office Data Hub shows that:

  • females aged 10 to 24 were disproportionately more likely to be victims of sexual offences recorded by the police, particularly those aged 10 to 14 and 15 to 19
  • The number of sexual offences recorded increased by 14% compared with the previous year and is now at the highest level recorded since the introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) in April 2002
  • sexual offences against children contributed over one-third (41%; 6,129 offences) to the total increase. This includes “rape of a male or female child under 16”, “rape of a male or female child under 13”, “sexual assault on a male or female child under 13”, “sexual activity involving a child under 13 or under 16” and “abuse of children through sexual exploitation”.
  • As in previous years, women were significantly more likely to have experienced sexual assault in the last year than men (3.1% compared with 0.8%). This is true for all types of sexual assault, with the exception of sexual assault by a family member, where there was no significant difference.
  • indecent exposure and unwanted sexual touching was experienced by around three times as many women as men (2.7% compared with 0.8%)

How do you define child sexual abuse?

There are 2 different types of child sexual abuse. These are called contact abuse and non-contact abuse.

Contact abuse involves touching activities where an abuser makes physical contact with a child, including penetration. It includes:

  • sexual touching of any part of the body whether the child’s wearing clothes or not
  • rape or penetration by putting an object or body part inside a child’s mouth, vagina or anus
  • forcing or encouraging a child to take part in sexual activity
  • making a child take their clothes off, touch someone else’s genitals or masturbate.

Non-contact abuse involves non-touching activities, such as grooming, exploitation, persuading children to perform sexual acts over the internet and flashing. It includes:

  • encouraging a child to watch or hear sexual acts
  • not taking proper measures to prevent a child being exposed to sexual activities by others
  • meeting a child following sexual grooming with the intent of abusing them
  • online abuse including making, viewing or distributing child abuse images
  • allowing someone else to make, view or distribute child abuse images
  • showing pornography to a child
  • sexually exploiting a child for money, power or status (child exploitation).

We are protected online by the Misuse of Communications Act.

What is the Misuse of Communications Act?

According to the Act section 127 it is;

Improper use of public electronic communications network
(1)A person is guilty of an offence if he—
(a)sends by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character; or
(b)causes any such message or matter to be so sent.
(2)A person is guilty of an offence if, for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another, he—
(a)sends by means of a public electronic communications network, a message that he knows to be false,
(b)causes such a message to be sent; or
(c)persistently makes use of a public electronic communications network.
(3)A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable, on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or to both.
(4)Subsections (1) and (2) do not apply to anything done in the course of providing a programme service (within the meaning of the Broadcasting Act 1990 (c. 42)).


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