Study Finds Thousands Of Child Abuse Cases Go Unidentified

Children’s Commissioner Suggest 85% Of Abuse Cases Missed By Authorities

24.11.2015

A new report from the children’s commissioner has indicated that only one in eight children in England who are sexually abused is identified by authorities.

The report analysed 50,000 cases of abuse between April 2012 to March 2014, although the children’s commissioner suggested that the actual number of cases of abuse was closer to 450,000 with over 400,000 cases going unidentified by authorities.

According to the study, many of the missed cases were within families, as it found two-thirds of child sexual abuse occurred within the family environment or a close circle around it.

It found abuse was most likely to occur at the age of nine and that many survivors of abuse did not speak about their ordeals until adolescence, or adulthood, when they recognised what had happened to them was sexual abuse.

Children's commissioner Anne Longfield called for improved training and knowledge amongst teachers, social services, police and other professionals to help them spot the signs of sexual abuse.

She added that recent attention and investigations had focused on the abuse children suffered in institutions or by groups of perpetrators.

"We must now wake up to and urgently address the most common form of child sexual abuse - that which takes place behind the front door within families or their trusted circles," she said.

Tracey Storey, a Partner and expert abuse lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said:

Expert Opinion
“The findings of this report are extremely concerning and it is absolutely imperative that steps are taken to improve the services and assistance survivors of abuse have access to.

“Clearly more training and increased knowledge of sexual abuse within families is required to ensure that any child in this terrible position is identified quickly and removed from their situation.

“The harrowing nature of abuse within the family or the close circle around it makes it extremely difficult for survivors to come forward at the time of the abuse, meaning it often stays hidden for a number of years.

“We have seen the major impact abuse of this nature, in particular, can have on the lives of survivors, affecting their ability to work and to form relationships.

“Now the issue of sexual abuse is more frequently in the public eye, more people are coming forward to talk about what they went through in the hope justice can be served and to stop these types of incidents happening again.

“Due to the nature of the crimes it often takes years before those who have suffered abuse feel able to discuss their ordeal.”
Tracey Storey, Partner

The report from the children’s commissioner has called for a major strategy from the government to prevent child abuse, including increasing the responsibilities of those who work with children, teaching children to talk to an adult if they are worried about abuse and to support all children from the moment they disclose any kind of sexual abuse.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of child abuse, our specialist child abuse lawyers could help you get justice and claim compensation. Call 0370 150 100 to talk confidentially to someone about making a claim or visit our Abuse & Criminal Injury Claims page for more information.