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  1. ITV Report

Reports of child-on-child sexual assaults increase by more than 500%

The number of children reporting abuse by their peers has increased by more than 500% according to figures obtained by ITV Cymru Wales.

A freedom of information request from two of Wales' largest police forces, North Wales Police and South Wales Police, show there were almost 700 reported cases of child-on-child sexual abuse in 2017 compared with 109 reported cases in 2012.

'Sophie' is one of the growing number of victims of a child-on-child sexual assault Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

One victim of sexual abuse has spoken out after she was assaulted by her classmate when she was just six years old.

Sophie - not her real name - says she was left with mental health problems after the realisation of what happened dawned on her.

"I froze up. And I didn't understand, I just knew that it didn't feel ok. Until when I was older I kind of educated myself and realised what it was and the severity of it.

"I've always had massive anxiety problems. Even just in daily life I'm just always usually on edge over things. But even now, when I don't even see him any more, I still can get flashbacks and things which do induce anxiety even now."

Sophie is just one of the growing number of victims of a peer-on-peer assault, where an individual under the age of 16 is sexually assaulted by another child.

662
the number of reported child-on-child sexual assaults in 2017
109
the number of reported child-on-child sexual assaults in 2012
Sarah Thomas from the charity New Pathways says the sheer amount of inappropriate material online is helping fuel the problem. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Sarah Thomas, from the charity New Pathways, says the rise could be due to increased reporting but she fears the sheer amount of inappropriate material online is helping fuel the problem.

I do believe that there's a lot of blurred boundaries with children and young people, knowing what is ok and acceptable and what isn't acceptable.

I think the fact that they have access to technology for example. The internet is a great place, it's a fabulous resource, but also children can be exposed to lots of different things that they may not have been historically.

– Sarah Thomas, New Pathways Charity

Sophie says boundaries should be something that is taught in schools.

"I just didn't understand why it was wrong, I just didn't understand, I just knew I didn't like it, but if someone had said 'this what's ok and this is what's not' and 'if you don't feel comfortable with something then you have to tell us so we can sort it out' then I would have probably said something to somebody."

You can watch Richard Morgan's report below:

Who can you contact if you’ve been affected?