FromBBC News Northern Ireland Monday 20th Nov 2000
More children in Northern Ireland experience sexual abuse and neglect than their counterparts across the UK, a major report has suggested.
The study by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children indicated that one per cent of those interviewed had suffered sexual abuse by a parent.
As many as 35.000 young people in Northern Ireland could be experiencing abuse, according to a NSPCC study.
It says children in the province are often abused by a sibling and that the figures for sexual abuse and neglect are higher than the national average.
"One in seven young people could be facing maltreatment at the hands of their parents." she said.
According to the study, four in ten children had experienced bullying and discrimination.
A NSPCC spokesman said a government action plan was needed to counter the problem.
The findings were taken from a survey of childhood experiences carried out among 2,869 18-24-year-olds across the UK.
Most have loving family
While one of the main findings of the survey indicated that nine out of ten of these young people had had a warm and loving family background, it also pointed to "significant" minorities who had suffered serious abuse or neglect at home.
Other findings of the survey suggest:
Seven per cent suffered serious physical abuse, including being hit with a fist or implement, beaten up, burned or scalded.
Six per cent suffered serious physical neglect at home, including being left regularly without food, not being looked after or taken to the doctor when ill.
Six per cent had suffered multiple attacks on their emotional wellbeing and self-confidence, including living with frequent violence between parents.
One in 12 of respondents experienced regular bullying and discrimination. Four in 10 experienced it at some point.
One in 10 children, mostly girls, had been forced or threatened into performing sex acts against their will by people known to them when they were under the age of 16.
One in four of those surveyed said there were things that had happened to them in their childhood which they found difficult to talk about.
More than a quarter of the respondents who had been sexually abused or coerced into sexual activity had told anyone at the time it happened. One in three people had never told anyone.