Most victims of child abuse are not identified by professionals, a new report from the Children’s Commissioner for England estimates.
While police and local authorities throughout the country recorded over 50,000 cases of abuse over a two year period, the Commissioner claims that between 400,000 and 450,000 children were actually abused in that time. This would mean that only one in eight victims are identified.
The report gathered information from police, children’s social services, adult survivors of child abuse and various experts on the matter. Using this information, authors estimated the number of unreported cases.
Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, said the report indicates that “many victims suffer in silence, unknown to those who could protect or help them to overcome their experiences”. She said that the number of identified victims could be low as the current system depends on those children admitting what has happened to them, “which they rarely do”.
The government needs a new approach to dealing with child abuse, she added, because a “system which waits for children to tell someone cannot be effective”.
The report also found that 66 per cent of child abuse is perpetrated by family or members of a “trusted circle” and that 75 per cent of victims are girls. However, the Commissioner suggested that male victims could be underrepresented as “their abuse is less likely to be identified”.