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Gangs exploit thousands of children
Thousands of children each year are being sexually exploited by gangs and groups in England, according to an interim report.
Figures published midway through a two-year inquiry found 2,409 children and young people were confirmed victims between August 2010 and October 2011.
A further 16,500 children were at "high risk" of sexual exploitation between April 2010 and March 2011 a probe by the Office of the Children's Commissioner, which is a non-departmental public body, revealed.
The report - entitled I Thought I Was The Only One. The Only One In The World - comes after nine Asian men who groomed white girls as young as 13 in Rochdale with drink and drugs were jailed at Liverpool Crown Court in May.
Judge Gerald Clifton told the defendants one of the reasons they targeted their victims was because they were not part of their community or religion.
Two months ago, documents emerged which allegedly showed agencies in Rotherham were aware of allegations of widespread targeted abuse of teenage girls in the town by groups of Asian men.
However, the report's leader, Deputy Children's Commissioner Sue Berelowitz, said the "model" of Asian men targeting white girls was just one of "a number of models", and warned that if investigators concentrated on those patterns, victims could fall through the net.
She said: "The reality is that each year thousands of children in England are raped and abused by people seeking to humiliate, violate and control them.
"The impact on their lives is devastating. These children have been abducted, trafficked, beaten and threatened after being drawn into a web of sexual violence, sometimes by promises of love and sometimes simply because they know there is no alternative.
"This abuse and violence can be relentless and take place anywhere - as they go home from school, as they walk to the shops, in their local park. The vast majority of the perpetrators are male and, in both gang and group contexts, different models of exploitation have been identified."