Charity warnings over child abuse rates

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A CHARITY boss in the North East has spoken of her concern after a new survey showed one in five secondary school children has been severely abused or neglected.

The NSPCC finding comes from a survey of 2,275 children aged 11 to 17 and 1,761 adults aged 18 to 24.

In all, 18.6 per cent of the 11 to 17-year-olds had been physically attacked by an adult, sexually abused, or neglected. The figure is equivalent to almost a million secondary school children across the UK. One in four of the 18 to 24-year-olds also reported severe maltreatment during childhood.

Liz Benson, NSPCC Head of Service for the North East and Cumbria, said: “Our research gives a fuller and more up-to-date picture of child abuse and neglect.

“Physical violence, neglect and forced sex are still harming the lives of hundreds of thousands of children across the UK and most of it remains unreported.”

Ms Benson said that although steps were being taken to improve child protection, abuse was still a problem.

“According to the research, many children are now treated less harshly than in previous generations,” she said.

“There is heightened awareness about what child abuse is and what needs to be done about it. Progress can and is being made in the fight against cruelty to children.

“The scale and impact of child abuse requires a major shift towards earlier intervention in child protection. When children do not get the protection and support they need when they most need it, they can be vulnerable to continuing physical or mental harm and further abuse.

“There are likely to be severely maltreated children in every secondary school across the North East. Some will face abuse and neglect while still at school.”