Devon abuse figures prompt NSPCC to call for government action

PUBLISHED: 17:00 01 July 2008 | UPDATED: 09:12 10 June 2010

FIGURES released by the Youth Justice department show some 141 children in the South West were convicted of sexual offences in 2006/07 - with 31 children coming from Devon.

FIGURES released by the Youth Justice department show some 141 children in the South West were convicted of sexual offences in 2006/07 - with 31 children coming from Devon.

The NSPCC is warning the government to act upon the figures - saying some children who sexually abuse others are turning into adult offenders because they are not getting treatment to stop their harmful behaviour.

In Devon, the NSPCC assesses children with sexually harmful behaviour to see what help they need and has trained staff who can deliver the appropriate treatment.

The NSPCC is calling on the governments in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to urgently fund a national and regional network of services to help children who abuse.

The NSPCC would like to see the governments take a coordinated approach to deal with young people who display sexually harmful behaviour to ensure they are treated in the right way wherever they live and whoever identifies their behaviour.

The society is also calling for more training for teachers, doctors and other professionals so they can identify sexually abusive behaviour as early as possible and act on their concerns.

NSPCC spokeswoman Natalie Cronin said: "The sooner you start treating someone who carries out sexual assaults, the greater chance you have of stopping the behaviour.

"The majority of children and young people who display sexually harmful behaviour have suffered, or are suffering, abuse of some kind. They need advice, support and treatment. We cannot afford to let them fall by the wayside. We must address their behaviour.

"Without treatment, there is a real danger that children who sexually assault other children will go on to offend in adulthood. It also leaves other children and young people vulnerable to sexual abuse.

"The NSPCC and other agencies offer intervention and assessment services but it is a lottery as to who gets what kind of treatment. It is an issue that needs urgent attention but it can only be tackled with support and focus from governments."

Twenty-five per cent of sexual abuse is committed by children and young people.

The NSPCC receives over 1,000 requests for its services each year and waiting lists can be up to several months long.

The public can support the campaign at www.nspcc.org.uk/campaigns

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