The number of child sexual exploitation victims counselled by Childline has risen by 16% in a year, with perpetrators believed to be increasingly preying on targets online.
The NSPCC’s round-the-clock service delivered 4,500 counselling sessions in 2018-19 to children and young people who were coerced or forced into sexual activity, with the youngest victim aged just nine.
The head of Childline, Shaun Friel, said the rise from 2017-18 was partly a reflection of greater awareness leading to more children getting in contact, but also a result of abusers increasingly using the internet to target victims.
“I wouldn’t want to present a picture that it [the internet] is a dangerous world but it just means that children can be contacted in ways they couldn’t before,” said Friel. “There’s great potential for children to be exploited through some of the mediums where young people spend their time.”
In more than a third (38%) of counselling sessions relating to child sexual exploitation (CSE), victims said they…