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A recent, major police investigation in Glasgow uncovered over 30 million images of child sex abuse and over 500 young victims in a month-long investigation.

77 individuals were charged with crimes against children with some of these cases involving the rape of children as young as three and some abuse involving babies.

During these investigations, 83 suspects’ houses were searched, 547 devices were seized for examination and more than 100,000 chat logs were assessed.

400 charges have been made so far with the Glasgow Police expecting this figure to increase as they uncover even more suspects.

These offences were carried out through websites, online chat rooms and forums used by young people.

How big is this issue today?

Unfortunately, in the society we live in, child abuse has always existedbut due to the unpleasantness of the subject it has not been confronted, at least not enough to alter the statistics.

1 in 20 under 18s have been sexually abused or raped. An alarming proportion of those statistics involve family members.

None of us like to think about the implications of sexual abuse and rape especially in relation to young people or even a child, brother, sister, niece or nephew but with figures such as these, we can no longer afford to simply hope that the problem will cease.

Of the 523 victims and potential victims that were discovered during this month long investigation in Scotland, 122 have been referred to child protection services. However, the effects of such abuse and trauma can ruin the lives of those who become victim to it. The impact of abuse can be devastating and long-lasting and without counselling and support these young people, will suffer all their lives.

A call for action

In the words of an officer involved in the investigations in Scotland, “Sexual abuse is a national threat and it’s happening now.” Figures like the ones detailed above demand action nationwide. We can no longer brush these statistics under the carpet or express our horror before carrying on with our daily lives. Action needs to be taken to protect our children.

Safeline work with young people to protect them against the abuse and exploitation that they might experience through their encounters online or in person. Our projects teach them to keep safe online and what to do in situations where that safety is compromised. We help children who have already suffered abuse and rape work through their trauma in an attempt to help them recover and lead a happy life into and throughout adulthood and fulfil their potential.

Safeline are passionate about keeping young people safe and we need all the help we can get in supporting our mission. That includes support from the police and those figures in authority who have the power to stop abuse.

Shocking statistics were brought to light in these investigations but unfortunately these findings are only the tip of the iceberg.  This begs the question, are similar investigations being carried out everywhere else in the UK to tackle sexual abuse and rape head on? Such investigations should be undertaken throughout the rest of the UK to tackle sexual abuse and rape head on. Young people should be able to trust adults, seek support from them and feel safe in the knowledge that we are taking steps to prevent this sort of activity.

How is this problem being addressed nationally? Glasgow has clearly taken the lead on this issue but should every other force be doing something similar? Is there a lack of resources or a lack of willingness?

With this knowledge and understanding of the severity of child sexual abuse and rape, it is now our duty to show young people that this behaviour is not the norm and it can be stopped but who will take the lead in this mission against child abuse? Whose responsibility is it? The government’s? The police force? Why has this behaviour been allowed to go on for so long? It’s time to start asking these questions and demanding answers for the sake of the protection of our young people.

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