Most child sex victims in South Yorkshire know their attacker

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ALMOST 150 children and young people fell victim to paedophiles in South Yorkshire in 12 months - with more than 80 per cent of victims knowing their attackers.

Figures have been released by children’s charity the NSPCC which were obtained from South Yorkshire Police.

There were 142 sexual offences against children between April 2010 and March 2011, 59 of which involved sex offenders related to their victim - some 42 per cent.

A total of 56 were known to the victim but not related - 39 per cent of cases.

In 27 cases, or 19 per cent of the total, the offender was not known to the victim.

Gordon Ratcliffe, regional head of service for the NSPCC, said: “There is sometimes the perception that child sex offenders are strangers - sinister figures lurking in the shadows. But the reality is that most victims know their abusers.

“Every year the lives of thousands of children are ruined by adults who they think they can trust but who sexually abuse them. Many of the victims are threatened or intimidated into silence with some thinking no one will believe them.

“Speaking out is key to ending the cycle of abuse and they must have support to do this.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Martyn Bates, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “All sexual crimes committed against children are abhorrent, but those committed by someone related to or known by the victim are also a terrible abuse of trust.

“Raising awareness of this issue and it’s prevalence will improve the chances of early detection and prevention. South Yorkshire Police have specially-trained officers dedicated to this work, but they must work with other agencies, organisations and communities to be effective.”