By Gary Smee 04/04 Updated: 05/04 11:45
ALMOST 450 sex crimes against children were reported to police in Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire last year according to new figures released by the NSPCC.
The shocking statistics show 146 of the victims in West Mercia had not reached secondary school age and 50 were five and under.
But the majority of offences, which included rape, incest and abuse of children through prostitution and pornography, were reported against 11 to 17-year-olds.
Of the 449 crimes, almost 85 per cent of the victims were girls.
In the report, the NSPCC said more than 400 sexual assaults against children were reported to police forces in England and Wales every week last year, but fewer than one in ten resulted in a conviction.
The charity, which runs specialist programmes to protect children from sexual abuse, is calling for parents, the Government and schools to take greater action to drastically reduce these figures.
Sandra Lescott-Robinson, NSPCC regional head of service for the West Midlands, said: "Many of these distressing offences are committed on extremely young and helpless children, who may not understand what is happening to them and are unable to ask for help.
"The NSPCC is doing what it can by using information like this from the police to tailor our treatment services - different approaches are needed depending on the age of the child.
"We are also pioneering new programmes in the West Midlands to tackle sexual abuse of children, including our Schools Service which aims to visit every primary school in the county over two years.
"But we can’t tackle this problem by ourselves.
"It requires a major effort from Government and the public to give children the protection they need and to provide more therapeutic programmes so the young victims of abuse can start to rebuild their lives."
If adults have concerns about a child, they should immediately contact social services, police or call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000 where trained counsellors are on call 24 hours a day.
Children should contact ChildLine on 0800 1111.
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