MORE than 16,000 children are now potential victims of serious sexual abuse as social networking sites and mobile phone services are used to "groom, bully and pursue" teenagers, an official report warns.
The UK's Children's Commissioner says gangs are now responsible for raping thousands of teenage girls and that urgent action is needed to stop the growing problem.
The report warns that it has been "rare to identify cases of child sexual exploitation where the use of technology has not been a factor".
The report also contains figures showing that about one-third of men convicted of sexually exploiting children in Britain were of "Asian" origin.
However, Sue Berelowitz, the deputy Children's Commissioner, insisted yesterday that the "model" of Asian men abusing white teenage girls was only one among a wide range of unacceptable behaviour.
The report sets out evidence which for the first time attempts to quantify the scale of the problem. (© Daily Telegraph, London)