Thousands of children in England are being abused and sexually exploited by gangs, the Deputy Children's Commissioner has said, as she launches an inquiry.
Current estimates show up to 10,000 children could be affected by the sexual abuse, but it is feared the true figure could be much higher, the BBC reports.
"Right now thousands of children are being horrifically abused by gangs," Sue Berelowitz said, adding that she is mounting a two-year inquiry into the scale and scope of the problem.
The exploitation involves children as young as 11 being targeted by groups of men or gangs. They are given gifts and attention, then sold or passed on to others once they are trapped.
The Child Sexual Exploitation, Gangs and Groups Inquiry (CSEGG), will attempt to discover how many children are being sexually exploited by both organised gangs and groups of people.
"Children are being failed up and down the country - in every village, town and city," Berelowitz said.
Maggie Atkinson, the Children's Commissioner for England, described the inquiry as "a wake-up call for us all".
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