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Child sexual abuse

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Little girl holding a soft toy
A sex crime is committed against a child every 20 minutes, according to new research by the NSPCC.

A new NSPCC report has released figures which shows that more than 23,000 offences were reported in 2009-2010, which was an 8% rise on the year before.

Sexual abuse against children is a worry for all parents - and it's something that often crops up in the media.

Last year, Loose Women star Coleen Nolan wrote about abuse she suffered as a child in her autobiography, Upfront And Personal.

She revealed that her dad, Tommy Nolan, used to beat her, her sisters and her mum and he sexually abused her sister, Anne.

Coleen described her dad as a 'monster' and said that drink turned him into a 'cruel man'.

Child abuse in EastEnders

It's not just Coleen and the NSPCC that's raised the issue of child abuse and paedophilia recently. EastEnders received a record number of complaints about the child abuse storyline involving Bianca's boyfriend, Tony, grooming and sexually abusing her step-daughter, Whitney a few years ago. But it also had many comments of approval from people who had been moved by the storyline to get help for themselves.

EastEnders told us: 'From its beginning, EastEnders has told stories about contemporary issues. Although we have had complaints that we are tackling this subject, we have also had extremely positive feedback about the Tony and Whitney storyline. We've had strong support from the NSPCC, support groups and individuals who work in the field of sexual abuse.'

The NSPCC said, 'Programmes like EastEnders are increasingly helping to raise awareness of the hidden nature of sexual abuse. The NSPCC's work with the BBC on the EastEnders storyline is aimed at ensuring the portrayal of child abuse accurately reflects the damage it can do to the victim, their family and the wider community. This is vital in persuading people to take action to stop it and encouraging children to speak out.'

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News of child abuse is always shocking, and stories like this may scare you and raise questions for you. Here, we attempt to answer some of those questions, including how to spot the signs of sexual abuse and what you can do to help.

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Sandra Smith

www.xlibris.co.nz/bookstore/bookdisplay.aspx?bookid=700096 THE BROKEN ROAD is a moving story of a mother's strength and courage as she dealt with the betrayal, anger and trauma from the sexual abuse of her daughter at the hands of her best friend's husband. It moves through the emotional journey of her need to seek revenge and justice but instead found acceptance and forgiveness of her daughter's perpetrator.

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