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If only someone had listened" report from Children's Commissioner

The report, from the Children’s Commissioner, is the result of a two-year inquiry into child exploitation and gangs. It is being published alongside research on young people's understanding of consent to sex, and a study on the pressures on young people who have been raised in gang-affected neighbourhoods.

The report says legislation is there to protect children but agencies from the police to social services need to become far better at spotting children at risk and providing them with the necessary protection.

The inquiry found that 2,409 youngsters were known to be victims of child sexual exploitation by gangs and groups, while a further 16,500 were at risk. It warned that the problem was prevalent in every area of England, and was not restricted just to low-income, inner-city neighbourhoods but "in every type of neighbourhood, rural, urban, deprived, not deprived".

Research conducted by Bedfordshire University into sexual violence in gangs suggested two-thirds of young people questioned (65%) knew of young women who had been pressurised or coerced into sexual activity.

A study by London Metropolitan University suggested that young people had a limited understanding of "consent" and that sex without consent where those involved knew each other was often not seen as rape. Only one in 12 of those interviewed said that young people would be likely to report crimes of sexual abuse. It said sexual violence could be seen as "normal and inevitable", with young women "facing the blame" for their own abuse.

"The victim, usually a girl (but boys are victims too) is invariably blamed for their own assault," the study concluded.

The report was critical of 94% of safeguarding children boards for failing to follow government guidance on tackling child exploitation and provides recommendations for a new framework.

Wed 26th Nov 2013

The report is available on: http://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/‎