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Girls aged 12-15 are most likely to be groomed online

Girls aged between 12 and 15-years-old are the most likely to be a victim of online grooming, analysis by the NSPCC has found.

Girls are more likely to be targeted by groomers, with reports from police forces in England and Wales showing girls were the victim in 83% of grooming cases where the gender was known between April 2017 and March 2021.

Where age and gender is recorded, girls aged 12-15 are most likely to be the victims of online grooming, and more needs to be done to protect children online, says the children’s charity.

Anna Edmundson, Head of Policy at the NSPCC, said: “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.”

The NSPCC states that there has been a 60% rise in the number of sexual communication with a child offences against girls in the last three years, with 10,700 communications recorded by the police in England and Wales between April 2017 and March 2021.

The charity has already raised concerns about the Draft Online Safety Bill which, it says, requires significant changes in order to protect children from online abuse.

More changes are needed to help protect girls - and all children - from sexual abuse online and the children’s charity is urging the new Culture Secretary, Nadine Dorres, to take action to make sure the Online Safety Bill helps prevent online child abuse.

Anna Edmundson, Head of Policy at the NSPCC, added: “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,” she concluded.

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