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Child-on-child sex assaults soar 71%

CHILD-ON-CHILD sex abuse has soared by almost 71 per cent over the last four years, an investigation has revealed.

The number of reports made against pupils rose from 4,603 in 2013/14 to 7,866 in the 12 months to the end of March this year.

Out of 30,000 complaints received between April 1, 2013 and the end of May, 2,625 were about incidents at schools and 458 involved alleged attackers aged ten or younger.

In 74 per cent of cases, police took no action, the BBC’s Panorama found. One girl told the programme: ‘It’s not what actually happens that has the worst effect on you, it’s what comes after it. It’s the being disbelieved — it’s the people failing you.’

Some 225 alleged rapes by under-18s on other children were among the reported offences, data released by 38 police forces in England and Wales show.

Reports of sexual offences by children aged ten and under more than doubled from 204 in 2013/14 to 456 in 2016/17.

Girls were the biggest targets of abuse. A six-year-old identified by Panorama as Bella told her mum she ‘could not sit down to eat breakfast’ because of repeated digital sexual assaults in the playground.

Her parents claim police advised them to move to another area because her attackers were below the age of criminal responsibility and could not be charged. Another girl said she was sexually assaulted with a ruler in an art class. And a third said, after a classmate was arrested for abusing her, he was not expelled and she had to sit her GCSE exams in the same room as him.

Sarah Hannafin, from the National Association of Head Teachers, said: ‘Young people now have access to lots of inappropriate material.

It’s not just pornography — it’s dating sites, it’s social media, and a lot of that content normalises negative attitudes and negative behaviours.’

Catherine Moggridge, a secondary school teacher, said sexting had become the norm.

‘Before someone says I love you, or I really care about you, they have sent a naked picture,’ she said.

Panorama claimed that, while teachers are told by the government they must report allegations of abuse by adults, there is no requirement to act when a child is accused.

But the Department for Education told the programme: ‘Sexual assault is a crime and any allegation should be reported to the police.’

The NSPCC said: ‘Disturbingly, a third of all child sexual offences are committed by children. Most do not go on to become adult offenders if they are given the right support.’

Panorama is on BBC 1 tonight at 8.30pm.