More than 3000 Childline counselling sessions have been held for peer sexual abuse, it has been revealed.
The latest figures from the NSPCC-service reveal that last year there were 3,004 counselling sessions with young people who had experienced sexual abuse by a friend, boyfriend or girlfriend, an ex-partner or another young person and 41 of these sessions were with young people from Northern Ireland.
Older children are vulnerable to suffering the abuse in different places, including school, at home, at parties and online, while younger ones are more likely to experience it as one-off incident at primary school.
Neil Anderson Head of NSPCC in Northern Ireland said: “There is something particularly shocking and disturbing about a child being sexually abused by another young person.
“Unfortunately we have to wake up to the fact that this is happening across the UK thousands of times over each year, with both victim and perpetrator at risk of suffering lasting damage.
“Tackling this problem demands all children are introduced to key learning concepts such as boundaries and consent from primary school onwards.”
To help children and teenagers who have been sexually abused the NSPCC delivers ‘Letting the Future In’ from its service centres across the UK.
The charity sees boys and girls aged 4 to 17 in special play therapy rooms where they do things like messy play, writing, storytelling and art to help express feelings that the young person can’t put into words.
The NSPCC also offers an online learning course – Managing sexualised behaviour in primary schools - which enables anyone who works with children in primary schools to feel confident about recognising, assessing and managing incidents of sexualised behaviour.
Any child worried about peer sexual abuse can call Childline on 0800 11 11. Any adult who is concerned about a child can call the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000.