‘Up to 500 UK kids sexually abused or at risk of exploitation’

In the UK, a chilling report has found that nearly half a thousand children were sexually exploited or at risk of sexual exploitation in the West Midlands in the first half of 2014.

The data provided by West Midlands police, children’s charity Barnardo’s and seven local councils shows that 84% of victims were female and around a third of the kids identified were in local authority care. It also shows that the 488 children range in age from 14 to 16.

But the report states that the number is likely to be “a significant underestimate of the true scale of the problem” in the region. The shocking figure is more than double the previous estimate for the same period.

“Many victims worry they will not be believed or are threatened by the offenders and don’t feel able to seek help. Many victims of grooming do not see themselves as victims of abuse as they have been so significantly manipulated by the perpetrators,” the report added.

‘National threat’

The founder of The National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC), Peter Saunders, believes that such crimes are nothing new and that they have gone on for many generations.

“People have refused to accept the reality of what happened to many of our children and recently the British Home Secretary, Theresa May, said that the abuse of our children constitute a national threat.”

The report, published on national child sexual exploitation (CSE) awareness day, also revealed that victims were sometimes trafficked to areas including London, Greater Manchester and north Wales and abused by “multiple men”.

Former Home Office CSE expert Stephen Rimmer said the report was the first real insight into the threat across the area.

“This assessment gives us a proper picture for the first time of the scale and nature of the CSE threat across the West Midlands. However, we cannot be complacent in any way. The perpetrators of this horrendous abuse are, whilst evil, very adept at disguising their activity.”

Peter Saunders says it is the government’s first duty to protect the citizens.

“I think if there is to be confidence and faith restored in our government and successive governments, then they have to put resources into eradicating this cancer that we call childhood abuse. If they don’t do that, then they are again turning a blind eye and allowing the abuser of our children to continue on an industrial scale and simply it’s not tolerable,” said the founder of NAPAC.

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