CHILDREN who become victims of sex abuse are at risk of further attacks.
That’s one of the shock findings in a major report prepared by a Huddersfield University academic.
Bernard Gallagher found that one in four victims had already been abused or become the victim of an attempted abduction.
His report into incidents of child sexual abuse and abduction is due to be published next month.
The report – the only one of its kind in the UK – is a development of wider research into the subject originally investigated 10 years ago by Mr Gallagher, senior research fellow in the university’s School of Human and Health Sciences.
It found that although most of the perpetrators of the abuse did adhere to the stereotype of the lone adult male there were, in fact, a number of cases where the offenders were either female or other children.
Another worrying finding of the research was the percentage of children being re-victimised.
Some 28% of children said they had experienced sexual abuse or an attempted abduction previously, suggesting that more needs to be done to protect existing victims of such abuse.
Mr Gallagher and his colleagues interviewed 2,500 children aged between nine and 16 in the north-west of England. They questioned children in primary and secondary schools in four different areas; inner city, rural, suburban and outlying council estates.
They found that, generally, incidents were most common among girls, those living in the inner city and older children. The incidents were broken down into four categories –
A combination of the above
The findings show that by far the biggest category was indecent exposure and only 10% of incidents were a combination of incidents.
Mr Gallagher says: “One of the most important things that came out of the findings was that, generally speaking, children reported more attempted incidents than completed ones.
“So somebody might try and touch them or get them into a car, but never actually succeed.
“We’re not sure why exactly they didn’t succeed. But I’m sure part of the reason is that children are a lot more aware of the dangers of strangers and because of that they protect themselves.
“I think more should be done to ensure children receive the education they need in order to protect themselves, both in school and in the home.”
Mr Gallagher adds: “This is very complex and it’s extremely important to have a balanced approach to this problem of child sexual abuse.
“On the one hand the media, some practitioners and to some extent the Government are exaggerating the problem.
“On the other hand there are many people – particularly academics – who are trying to play down the problem, saying it hardly exists.
“Our research shows it is a problem and that although it is happening to a minority of children it is not an insignificant minority.
“Three-quarters of children reported being ‘very frightened’ or ‘quite frightened’ by the incident.
“We’re just generally arguing for a more balanced approach to this problem; not to get it out of perspective but also not to minimise it either.”