Responding to the announcement from the Director of Public Prosecutions on tackling child sexual abuse, Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said:
'Today’s announcement from the Crown Prosecution Service and the Association of Chief Police Officers is a much-needed step in the right direction.
'Thousands of children are sexually exploited every year in this country. These numbers are very alarming, but they may only be the tip of the iceberg. Far too many victims go undetected and perpetrators unpunished, and the conviction rate for child sexual abuse is simply nowhere near good enough.
Let down by professionals
'All too often children tell us how they are being let down by the very professionals employed to protect them.
'From our extensive work in this area we know that there a serious problem with attitudes towards child victims. We particularly see this with teenage girls, who are far too often not believed and dismissed as ‘troublesome’ or ‘promiscuous’. All victims, including older children, need to be treated as vulnerable by professionals and be given appropriate protection.
'We have been saying this urgently needs to change for some time. It is hugely welcome that police and prosecutors are acknowledging this and taking action. We look forward to working with them to drive this change forward.'
For more information please call The Children’s Society media team on 020 7841 4423 or by email. For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07810 796 508.
Notes for editors
- The Children’s Society has several programmes throughout England that work directly with young children at risk of sexual exploitation, including those at risk on the street and children in care. We have campaigned for more than 25 years for greater protection for children at risk of sexual exploitation, particularly those that run away from home or care.
- We supported the All Party Parliamentary Group inquiry into children that run away from home or care, which found that attitudes among professionals were a barrier in tackling sexual exploitation, particularly among teenage girls.
- The Children’s Society wants to create a society where children and young people are valued, respected and happy. We are committed to helping vulnerable and disadvantaged young people, including children in care and young runaways. We give a voice to disabled children, help young refugees to rebuild their lives and provide relief for young carers. Through our campaigns and research, we seek to influence policy and perceptions so that young people have a better chance in life.