One million UK children 'attacked or abused'

As many as a million older school children have been attacked, abused or neglected, the first comprehensive questioning of 11 to 17-year-olds has discovered.

Almost one in five respondents said they had been subjected to severe maltreatment, with one in 20 complaining of sexual abuse. The NSPCC, which published the results of its survey yesterday, said much child abuse remained unreported.

It claimed that official figures which showed 46,000 children on child protection registers across the UK vastly under-represented the scale of the problem. "Physical violence, neglect and forced sex are still harming the lives of hundreds of thousands of children, and most of it remains unreported," said Andrew Flanagan, the chief executive of the NSPCC. "Successive governments have taken steps to improve child protection but local authorities are under strain, providing child protection plans for only a small proportion of cases. The UK still faces a problem in tackling child abuse."

Of the 11 to 17-year-olds, 18.6 per cent said they had been physically attacked by an adult, sexually abused, or severely neglected at home. One in 14 (6.9 per cent) said they had been physically attacked by an adult.

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