The NSPCC has revealed that across Hertfordshire it referred more than 140 contacts to police and children’s services from members of the public concerned a child was being sexually abused.
Over the last two years (2015/16 and 2016/17) the charity’s free and confidential helpline referred142 calls and emails to local agencies in Hertfordshire.
There were also a further 147 contacts where Helpline staff gave advice about sexual abuse against young people.
Across the UK in 2016/17 the NSPCC referred 4,677 contacts, an increase of 31 per cent on the previous year, when there were 3,578 referrals made.
It is estimated the one in 20 children in the UK have experienced contact sexual abuse.
The NSPCC is calling for a UK government-commissioned, nationwide prevalence study on child abuse and neglect – sooner rather than later – so they can understand the true scale of the problem.
John Cameron, head of Helplines at the NSPCC said: “It is deeply worrying that so many children are potentially being exposed to such a devastating experience, but at the same time it also suggests that as a society we are much more alert to the risks and much more willing to come forward and share our concerns.
“Sexual abuse can do huge damage to a child’s life and left untreated will often haunt them long into adulthood.”
Adults can contact the helpline 24-hours a day all year around on 0808 800 5000 or visiting www.nspcc.org.uk.