More than 200 sexual offences against children recorded in Norfolk, figures reveal
- Credit: Nigel R. Barklie / Rex Features
More than 200 sexual offences against children under the age of eight were recorded by police in Norfolk in the past year, new figures have revealed.
Thousands of sexual offences against children aged between four and eight were recorded by police forces across the country, a children's charity has discovered.
Police records show at least 7,618 sexual offences were committed against children of that age across England, Wales and Northern Ireland from April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019 - including 208 offences in Norfolk.
It comes as children's charity the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) relaunches a safety campaign to help parents talk to their children about sexual abuse.
Helen Westerman, the charity's head of safeguarding, said: "When children experience sexual abuse at such an early age it can have deeply traumatic consequences and a lasting impact on their lives.
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"Children may not even know what is happening to them is wrong and as a result it can take years to come to the surface."
"It is vitally important that parents are comfortable talking to children to help keep them safe."
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The NSPCC also said hundreds of children across the UK have contacted Childline about sexual abuse in the past year, and that in 2018-19, the service delivered 541 counselling sessions to under 11s concerned about sexual abuse.
A young girl who contacted Childline said: "I want to know if something that happened to me was wrong. My older brother's friend kissed me and touched me.
"He asked me to do other things but I said no and he got angry. I feel awful and like what happened was all my fault. Is this normal?"
Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive, added: "It is very concerning that the number of recorded sexual offences against young children is at such a high level and it is vital we do more to help them stay safe."
The NSPCC's Talk PANTS campaign is aimed at enabling parents to have age appropriate conversations with their child about the issue of sexual abuse - via the use of songs and children's characters without using the words "sex" or "abuse".
Mum-of-seven, Donna-Marie Wright, said: "Having been abused myself between the age of seven and 18, I believe it's essential that all parents talk to their children about staying safe."