The NSPCC is urging parents to protect their children after police recorded 293 sex crimes against children under 11 in 2013, compared with 257 the previous year.
It is re-running its Underwear Rule campaign, making clear that the parts of the body covered by underwear are private. It provides parents of children aged five to 11 with advice about keeping their children safe from sexual abuse.
The campaign, which originally launched last summer, was hugely successful in giving parents the confidence to have an easy conversation about what many originally saw as a difficult area for discussion.
More than 2.3 million people viewed the online video and nine out of ten parents said they now knew how to broach the subject.
Colin Peak, NSPCC regional head of services, said: “Sexual abuse continues to be a terrible scar on our society which won’t heal by
itself. Our campaign has started to make inroads in giving children the protection they need but there is obviously still a long way to go. The police figures are disturbing, particularly as many of the victims are so young.
“This highlights the urgent need to tackle this problem from an early age.
“Parents and carers can play an important role by ensuring their children are armed with the knowledge to recognise the wrong kind of behaviour and keep themselves safe.”
Offences included rape, sexual assault, abuse through pornography and grooming. Some victims were only one year old.
A total of 1,103 sex crimes against children under 18 were recorded by Thames Valley Police last year, with 917 against girls.
In England and Wales, 22,654 sexual offences were reported to police with four out of five cases involving girls.
The majority of crimes were against children of secondary school age, with about a quarter – 5,547 against those under 11.
This number of sex offences against under 11s was a near-20% rise on the previous year’s total of 4,772.
For more information on the campaign, visit www.nspcc.org.uk/underwear