Four in five victims of online grooming crimes since 2017 are girls

Four in five victims of online grooming crimes reported since 2017 are girls, NSPCC figures reveal

  • Report shows girls much more likely victims of online sexual communication 
  • FOI of police figures showed girls were the victim in 83% of cases since 2017
  • Teenage girls aged 12 to 15 are the most likely to be targeted by sexual predators

Four in five victims of online grooming crimes reported since 2017 are girls, new figures from a child protection charity reveal.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has said that more must be done to protect girls online after a report showed girls are more likely to be the victim of sexual communication – in 83 per cent of cases.

The report also showed that young teenage girls aged between 12 to 15 are the most likely to be targeted by sexual predators.

The NSPCC is calling on new Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries to strengthen proposals in the draft Online Safety Bill to ensure girls are properly protected from online sexual abuse.

Charity revealed that 83% of victims of online sexual communication are girls – with teenage girls aged 12 to 15 the most likely to be targeted by predators (stock image)

According to the NSPCC’s figures, gathered from Freedom of Information requests to police forces in England and Wales, since 2017/18, 83% of sexual communication with a child offences recorded girls as the victim where the gender was known, with those aged 12 to 15 the most likely to be targeted.

In total, the data shows there were 12,944 recorded offences where the gender was known between April 2017 and March 2021, with 10,722 of those recording the victim as female.

The figures also showed a sharp rise in the number of offences recorded against girls in general, with the data showing an increase of 60% between 2017/18 and 2020/21.

The charity has now asked the Government to act to ensure it lives up to its previously stated ambition of making the UK the safest place in the world for a child to be online.

The NSPCC has already called on the Government to fix ‘substantive weaknesses’ in the draft Online Safety Bill, which is currently being examined and MPs and peers.

FOI request shows there were 12,944 recorded offences where the gender was known between April 2017 and March 2021, with 10,722 recording the victim as female (stock image)

Last month, the charity warned that there were significant shortfalls in the Bill in its current form, and urged the Government to strengthen its plans in a number of areas, including stopping the spread of grooming across different apps.

In the wake of the latest figures around the scale of abuse targeting girls, the NSPCC is urging supporters to write to Ms Dorries to ask her to make sure children are at the heart of the Online Safety Bill.

‘Any child can be a victim of online sexual abuse but the sheer number of girls being targeted is both alarming and a reminder of the failure of platforms to effectively protect their young users,’ NSPCC head of policy, Anna Edmundson said.

‘When the Government published its strategy on violence against women and girls earlier this year it made a commitment to tackle crimes that disproportionately affect women and girls – including those that take place online.

‘One of the primary functions of the Online Safety Bill is to keep all children – including girls – safe when they go online. Now, the new Culture Secretary has the opportunity to fix the substantive weaknesses in the legislation so it does just that.’

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