LONDON, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- The ages of sexually abused children are falling while the trafficking of British children for sexual exploitation is increasing, a British charity said.
The average age for victims of sexual child abuse has dropped from 15 to 13 in five years, The Guardian reported.
"Wherever we have looked for exploitation, we have found it. But the real tragedy is we believe this is just the tip of the iceberg," said Anne Marie Carrie, chief executive of Barnardo, the largest British children's charity.
Carrie also called on Britain to appoint a minister to be in charge of the country's response to sexual child abuse.
"Without a minister with overall responsibility the government response is likely to remain inadequate," Carrie said.
Carrie said more children are sexually abused than are reported.
Her group's report, called "Puppet on a String," found that traffickers are getting more organized and that "grooming" methods are becoming more sophisticated through the use of cellular telephones and the Internet.
Carrie also said ethnicity is a factor in sexual child abuse.
"I am not going to say that ethnicity is not an issue in some geographical areas, it clearly is," Carrie said. "But to think of it as the only determining factor is misleading and dangerous."