Developing

Sexually Abused Kids 'Failed' By The System

The Government has admitted the system of protecting children from so-called "grooming gangs" is failing.

An action plan to be published later calls on all local areas to take urgent measures to stop the sexual exploitation of youngsters.

Children's Minister Tim Loughton will warn of failure by local agencies to recognise and deal with the problem of child sexual exploitation in many parts of the country.

Mr Loughton will tell Parliament: "This country has to wake up to the fact that children are being sexually abused in far greater numbers than was ever imagined. It could be going on in every type of community and in every part of the country.

"Too many local areas have failed to uncover the true extent of child sexual exploitation in their communities and failed to properly support victims and their families."

Moves to make it easier for victims to go to court are among the proposals.

Mr Loughton said it was "worrying" that many incidents went unreported because victims were unwilling to come forward.

The Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation Action Plan will see police, heath bodies and social work agencies working more closely to detect child exploitation.

Training will be improved for frontline staff.

Linda's daughter was 15 when she fell pray to a gang of Asian men who gave her drugs and groomed her for sex.

She told Sky News: "I just thought, 'Why my daughter, what has she done wrong?' In my own head I never knew at the time my daughter was being groomed."

Linda's daughter, who cannot be named, was repeatedly raped by the gang.;

She eventually became pregnant.

"My daughter said to me that she was pregnant by a guy who had been grooming her.

"She went to him, told him and she said she would be keeping the baby. She turned to walk away and this man grabbed her, tied her up, raped her, got his friend to join in.

"They beat and kicked her and the next they took her for an abortion. They put bleach in my daughter's mouth to get rid of the baby."

Gillian Gibbons, of child exploitation charity Crop, told Sky News: "The response to child sexual exploitation is very patchy.

"We've got a number of parents that we're supporting whose children are being sexually exploited, where they are really struggling to be heard, to be believed, and where the tendency is to assume that they are to blame for what is going on."

In October a report by Professor Jenny Pearce, of Bedfordshire University, warned as many as 10,000 children were being exploited by gangs - and that more than a quarter of the abusers were children themselves.