A major British children’s charity group says new findings from a study on child abuse reveal that up to a third of victims of child sexual exploitation are male.
The figures cited by Barnardo’s, which are taken from the analysis of more than 9,000 records, show a deeper problem than previously recognized.
By analyzing the records of 9,042 victims of child sexual exploitation (CSE) since 2008, University College London found out that almost one in three (2,986) was male. The eight to 17-year-olds included in the study had all previously been supported by Barnardo’s.
Earlier studies had suggested that boys accounted for a far smaller proportion of the children affected by such abuse.
Only 11% of the 1,943 victims who revealed their gender in a 2012 report on child grooming from the Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England (OCCE) were boys. In the 2011 findings of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop), 12.5% of 2,083 individuals were boys.
The charity group further said that schools in Britain must teach boys about the dangers of grooming.
Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan said “urgent action” was needed to ensure that boys received the same protection and education as girls concerning sexual abuse.
He emphasized, “We need to be brutally honest with ourselves. Society is miserably and unacceptably failing sexually exploited boys and young men.”
Khan also expressed optimism that the report would highlight the message that “it is not just girls who fall victim to this horrendous crime.”
“All children must have the knowledge to protect themselves,” he said.
The children’s charity published findings from a survey of 2,797 adults, which suggested that almost two in three would worry about having their intentions misunderstood or being falsely accused if they approached a lost child.