MORE THAN 70 children under the age of eight were sexually abused in Dorset last year, shock figures show.

According to the NSPCC ten of the children were aged just four. A total of 22 children aged five were found to have suffered sexual abuse. Ten six year olds, 16 seven year olds and 13 children aged eight also suffered.

The figures were obtained from a Freedom of Information request asking for the number of sexual offences against children aged under 18 between April 1 2018 and March 31 2019 and reveal that more than 700 children in the south west region endured this type of assault.

Dorset is the third worst in the region, with Devon and Cornwall receiving the most complaints, at 452.

CEO of the NSPCC, Peter Wanless, said: “It is very concerning that the number of recorded sexual offences against young children is at such a high level and it is vital we do more to help them stay safe from sexual abuse."

The NSPCC is using the figures to re-launch its Talk PANTS campaign, which helps parents with children aged eight and under to have vital conversations about staying safe from sexual abuse.

"It enables parents to have vital conversations with their child in an age appropriate way,” said Mr Wanless.

The charity’s PANTS rules, Pantosaurus song and activity pack help parents find the right words to talk to their children about staying safe, he said. "They don’t mention the words sex or abuse so it is easier for parents to tackle the sensitive subject."