DEVON and Cornwall police have reported a 20% rise in child sex crimes since last year, prompting the NSPCC to urge parents to protect their children.
Last year Devon and Cornwall Police recorded 146 child sex abuse cases, which is 25 more than they recorded the previous year.
At least one in five of all recorded sexual offences against children involve those too young to attend secondary school, police have also revealed.
In its continuing bid to help protect children from sexual abuse before it can begin, the NSPCC is re-running its ‘Underwear Rule’ campaign, which provides parents of children aged five to 11 with the resources to talk to them about staying safe from sexual abuse.
The campaign, which originally launched last summer, was hugely successful in giving parents the confidence to have an easy conversation about what many originally saw as a difficult area for discussion.
However, the charity has said 46 per cent of parents still haven’t tackled the issue with their children.
Regional head of service for NSPCC South West, Sharon Copsey, 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.
“The police figures are disturbing, particularly as many of the victims are so young. This highlights the urgent need to tackle this problem from an early age. And 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 latest figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, show girls are still at least four times more likely to be sexually abused than boys.
Of the 747 sex crimes recorded against children under 18 by Devon and Cornwall Police last year, 637 were girls.