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NSPCC: Premier League or Sunday League - child safety must be top priority

A children's charity has called on everyone to make child safety a priority "whether you're Premier League or Sunday League" following the sentencing of former England footballer Adam Johnson.

The NSPCC, which described Johnson's behaviour as "horrifying" and "inexcusable", has sent a letter to the Football Association expressing concerns about a potential "cultural problem" within the sport.

In the letter, the charity said it was concerned about the approach taken by Sunderland Football Club when confronted with a serious child protection issue.

"We are worried this could be a cultural problem within football as a whole and find it concerning clubs may not see incidents such as these as a child protection issue.

This is not only about one rogue player that behaved badly, but a club that seemingly did not have child protection priorities embedded into their culture. It was not equipped to handle these allegations and seemingly did not deal with them appropriately, or indeed seriously."

– NSPCC letter

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366 cases of child-on-child sex abuse in North East

Figures obtained by the NSPCC have revealed that 366 young people in the North East have committed acts of child sex abuse.

The charity found that nationally there were more than 5,000 cases reported to the police in the last three years.

Nearly all (98%) of the 4,562 offenders were boys and at least three out of five of the victims knew their abuser.

While more research needs to be done on this problem, we know that technology and easy access to sexual material is warping young people's views of what is 'normal' or acceptable behaviour.

We are treating an increasing number of children who have carried out online grooming, harassment in chatrooms and 'sexting'.

Children who are sexually abusive have often been victims of abuse, harm and trauma themselves. Exposure to this can make them think abusing someone or being sexually violent is ok.

– Claire Lilley, NSPCC
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NSPCC hopes abuse findings will ring 'alarm bells'

Claire Lilley, policy adviser at the NSPCC, said she hoped the findings would ring "alarm bells" with authorities that the problem required urgent action.

While more research needs to be done on this problem, we know that technology and easy access to sexual material is warping young people's views of what is 'normal' or acceptable behaviour.

We are treating an increasing number of children who have carried out online grooming, harassment in chatrooms and 'sexting'.

Children who are sexually abusive have often been victims of abuse, harm and trauma themselves. Exposure to this can make them think abusing someone or being sexually violent is ok.

The NSPCC obtained the statistics through Freedom of Information requests to each of the 43 police forces in England and Wales.

But only 34 forces supplied figures - revealing a total of 5,028 offences - so the true number of offences is likely to be higher, the NSPCC said.

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Shearer announces ChildLine service for North East

The footballing legend and NSPCC ambassador is officially launching the new service Credit: PA

Alan Shearer OBE is launching a new ChildLine Schools Service in the region that aims to help local primary school children to understand abuse and how they can stay safe.

The ChildLine service is aiming to visit every primary school in the North East by 2016, and is entirely run by volunteers.

Volunteers will be going into primary schools to deliver assemblies and workshops that they hope will encourage children to recognise situations where they may need help, and let them know where they can get support if they need it.

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