Child sex crimes on the increase

Romsey Advertiser: The number of sex crimes against children in Northern Ireland has increased The number of sex crimes against children in Northern Ireland has increased

The number of child sex crimes recorded in Northern Ireland has risen by almost a fifth following the Jimmy Savile scandal, experts said.

Almost 400 offences against youngsters aged under 10 were reported last year as more people came forward after the exposure of the disgraced former DJ, police figures revealed.

The NSPCC urged parents to protect their children and revealed the alarming wrongdoing, which may have happened many years ago or more recently.

It comes as a public inquiry into historical child abuse in institutions run by organisations like churches and the state opens in Northern Ireland.

The charity's regional head Neil Anderson said: "Whilst some of the increase will be down to an increase in reporting due to the Savile scandal, sexual abuse continues to be a terrible scar on our society which won't heal by itself."

Many alleged victims of dead broadcaster Savile in Great Britain emerged following a television programme about his abuse of teenagers.

Claims about Savile, who died in 2011, began following an ITV documentary in October 2012 in which several women said they were abused by him when they were younger.

The NSPCC Northern Ireland disclosed a significant increase in the number of reported primary school age victims.

Last year (2012-13) the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) recorded 377 child sex crimes against those under 10 - a near 20% rise on the previous year's figure of 316.

Mr Anderson said: "The police figures are disturbing, particularly as many of the victims are so young and therefore less likely to be able to understand they are being abused and be able to speak out.

"This highlights the urgent need to tackle this problem from an early age.

"And parents and carers have asked us for support in ensuring their children are armed with the knowledge to recognise the wrong kind of behaviour and keep themselves safe."

Last year 1,058 sexual offences against under-18s were reported to the PSNI. Most crimes, which included rape, were committed against those of secondary school age.

Mr Anderson said: "It's a startling fact that most children are abused by someone they know so it's vital that we communicate to children that it's not right for anyone to touch the places that are private to them, no matter who they are."

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