Shocking figures released by British police have shown that one child sex attack occurred every 20 minutes in the UK last year, equivalent to 444 attacks a week.
About 23,000 children fell victims to sex attacks in England and Wales during 2010/11 but fewer than 10 percent of cases ended in a conviction, British media reported.
According to figures there were 4,973 alleged victims aged ten and under, including 1,472 younger than six.
And six times as many reported offences were committed against girls as against boys.
The statistics, obtained by the NSPCC in a freedom of information request, cover rape, incest and child prostitution across all 43 police forces in England and Wales.
The charity said a major effort was needed to protect children and boost conviction rates.
“The government has to start treating the situation as seriously as they would if faced with an outbreak of chronic disease”, a spokesman said.
More than a third of all sex crimes are committed against children with more than 60 child sex offences reported to police every day, figures showed.
Overall, there were 54,982 sex offences last year, including 23,097 against children, as shown by the figures.
Most of the children (14,819) were aged between 11 and 17, including 8,749 aged 13 to 15.
“A concentrated effort has to be made if we are to start reducing this distressing level of offences, many of which are committed on extremely young and helpless children”, said Jon Brown, head of the NSPCC's sexual abuse program.
“When you have a situation where more than 60 children are being sexually abused every day, something is very wrong”, added Brown.