'We are all failing children', says Christian charity amid sex offence rise

Fri 03 Feb 2017
By Aaron James

A Christian charity has said "we are all failing children" as new figures reveal the number committing alleged sexual offences on other young people has nearly doubled in the last three years.

Youthscape's speaking after police figures obtained by Barnardo's found the number of children committing alleged sex crimes on their peers has gone up 78 per cent since 2013.

There were 9,290 reports in 2016 - an average of 25 a day.

There have been 32,452 reports since 2013. The figures only include instances where both the alleged perpetrator and victim are both under 18.

The National Police Chief's Council has said the figures reflect an increasing confidence in victims to come forward and report crimes. It also questioned whether the internet and social media could be fuelling the rise.

Rachel Gardner, from Youthscape, has urged parents to model healthy, positive relationships with their children and have conversations with them about what is and isn't appropriate sexual behaviour.

She also recommended online filters to block pornographic content, which she said is warping children's views on sex and relationships.

Speaking on Premier's News Hour, Rachel said: "It's profoundly troubling. I think we all have to put our hands up and all have to say: 'we're failing children'.

"If young people are growing up on a diet of fairly brutalised pornographic content, there will be some young people who feel this is normal behaviour and they can act it out on their peers."

"We all have a role to play. It takes a village to raise a child. Whether we are parents, youthworkers in churches, schoolteachers - all of us need to be creating a better environment for young people.

A government spokesman said: "Child sexual abuse is a horrendous crime and this Government is committed to preventing children and young people from becoming both victims and perpetrators.

"Our ongoing 'Disrespect NoBody' campaign is helping young people understand what a healthy relationship looks like and to re-think their views on controlling, violent and abusive behaviour."

Listen to Premier's Aaron James speaking to Rachel Gardner:

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