More help for abused kids

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SERVICES to treat sexually abused children in Sheffield are to be stepped up by the NSPCC after a fourfold national increase in the number of youngsters needing help.

Sheffield is one of 16 communities chosen across the UK selected for a pioneering three-year £15 million programme, which will see teams of therapists working with abused children.

But the charity fears that although it is sharply increasing its resources, it is still only scratching the surface of the problem.

Latest figures show that the majority of children who get treatment are teenagers, but there has been a dramatic rise in the number of very young children being referred to the NSPCC.

In 2008-09 there were 261 requests to help children who had been sexually abused but last year the figure quadrupled to 1,225.

The number of under-10s seeking treatment rose from 30 to 257.

Now the NSPCC is making sexual abuse one of seven areas of child cruelty it will focus on.

Sheffield will be part of a drive to increase the number of therapeutic services it offers, seeking to treat vulnerable children aged from six to 18.

Gordon Ratcliffe, regional head in Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “We are doing all we can to help these children, but there are thousands who do not get the treatment they need and far more who do not even reveal the ordeals they have been through.”

But he warned: “We are only scratching the surface of the problem.”