Rise in child sex abuse reports, warn NSPCC

An increase in the number of reports of child sex abuse last year has prompted a charity to repeat its campaign urging parents to address the issue with their children.

NSPCC Scotland has raised concerns over an increase in calls to its helpline and a rise in the number of sexual offences against under 13s.

Figures from the charity’s helpline for concerned adults show that sexual abuse accounted for 13% of calls which resulted in a referral, and 26% of calls which resulted in advice in 2012/13.

Compared with 2011/12, this represented a 68% increase in referral figures and an 83% increase in advice contacts.

Figures from the Scottish Government show that in 2012/13 Police Scotland recorded in excess of 700 sexual offences against children aged under 13 – a 4% increase on the previous year.

A total of 3,369 sexual offences against children were recorded, with a quarter of these having been committed prior to December 1, 2010.

NSPCC Scotland is re-running its Underwear Rule campaign which encourages parents of children aged 5-11 to talk to them about staying safe from sexual abuse.

The campaign originally launched last summer, with 2.3 million people viewing the online video, and nine out of 10 parents who were aware of the campaign said they now know how to broach the subject.

Matt Forde, national head of service for NSPCC Scotland, said: “Sexual abuse continues to be a terrible scar on our society which won’t heal by itself.

“Our campaign has started to make inroads in giving children the protection they need but there is obviously still a long way to go.

“Parents and carers can play an important role by ensuring their children are armed with the knowledge to recognise the wrong kind of behaviour and keep themselves safe.

“The Underwear Rule is a vital part of this process and is already striking a chord with some parents but we would urge more to get involved.”