Reports of sex abuse against primary school children in West Yorkshire have almost doubled in a year, it has been revealed.
Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by children’s charity the NSPCC show there were 603 cases of sex crimes to under 11s reported to West Yorkshire Police in 2011/12, compared with 313 the previous year.
The 92 per cent increase has been linked to an increase in reporting crimes after publicity over high-profile historical cases, like the Jimmy Savile abuse scandal, and a police campaign to tackle child exploitation.
The NSPCC today announced the second phase of its Underwear Rule campaign, urging parents to talk to their children about staying safe from sexual abuse.
The initiative, which began last summer, encourages parents to teach their children to remember ‘PANTS’ – that private parts are private, to always remember their body belongs to them, no means no, talk about secrets that upset them and to speak up because someone could help.
The campaign began last summer and the charity says more than 2.3 million people across the country have viewed an online video about the subject.
Fiona Richards, NSPCC regional head of service for Yorkshire and the Humber, said its own research had found 38 per cent of all parents of children aged five to 11 recognise the Underwear Rule.
However, she added: “Sexual abuse continues to be a terrible scar on our society and a huge concern for parents.
“Our campaign has started to make inroads in helping to give parents and carers the tools to help protect children, but there is obviously still a long way to go.
“In the run-up to the first campaign the issue of child sexual abuse had been high in the public consciousness, as it still is today with high profile sexual abuse cases continuing to dominate news headlines.
“Parents play the most important role in keeping their children safe, but many find sexual abuse a difficult subject to talk to their children about.
“As there was little freely available guidance to support them, we wanted to help make the conversations a lot easier and so devised the Underwear Rule campaign”
The charity asked police forces across England and Wales to reveal the number of sex crimes reported against under 11s and said it found there had been a 20 per increase.
Detective Inspector Chris Stones of the West Yorkshire Police's Safeguarding Unit said it was committed to protecting the most vulnerable people in its communities and had developed a “strong partnership approach” to tackle the problem.
“Last summer for instance, West Yorkshire Police launched the 'Know The Signs' campaign which is specifically aimed at tackling issues of Child Sexual Exploitation and helping people to identify the signs of this horrendous crime.
“This, coupled with high-profile historical cases, has seen a significant increase in the reporting of sexual abuse cases against young people within the county.
“It does, however; reflect the confidence which people have in coming forward and the significant inter-agency work taking place to provide victims with the right care and support.
“Sexual offences, particularly against young people remains a key priority and we continue to focus on training and awareness within the organisation.”