BOYS at risk of being targeted for sex by gangs of men in Oxfordshire are being forgotten, say support workers.

A Serious Case Review into child sexual exploitation (CSE) case Operation Bullfinch, published earlier this month, identified 373 child victims who may have been sexually exploited across the county.

The report said they were all girls but it has now transpired nearly 50 of them were boys.

Written by Alan Bedford for the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children’s Board, the report said: “There are grounds for believing that over the last 15 years around 370 girls may have been exploited.”

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The board’s spokeswoman Pasquale Brammer said: “Subsequent to publication, it has been clarified that just under 50 cases identified are boys.”

When asked how the error was made, the board refused to comment.

Mrs Brammer added the board delivers a training course called Not Just Our Daughters that focusses on working with male victims of CSE.

Anji Hall, from the charity Clean Slate which runs support services for men and boys in Oxfordshire who have been abused, said it was likely far more victims existed.

She added as a society, not enough was done to identify male victims.

Ms Hall: “There are more out there that haven’t been identified because we’re not looking closely enough into male abuse.

“Men are not coming forward and people are concentrating on what they know, which is men abuse girls. It’s a scary thought and people don’t want to deal with it.”

Victims are referred to Clean Slate through police, social services and health services, including the Kingfisher Team, which was set up to deal with CSE after Operation Bullfinch. The service currently cares for 28 men and boys.

Ms Hall said: “It’s something that nobody wants to think about.

There’s the idea that boys are more robust, they can fight off attackers and shouldn’t get in those positions in the first place.

“In some ways the effects are more devastating because of the shame, the idea that boys should be able to look after themselves.

“Also the idea that adult abusers would not be interested in boys, but in some cases boys are the only thing they are interested in.”

County council spokesman Paul Smith said: “The specialist Kingfisher Team has received training to be able to identify and support boys. It is encouraging that we are seeing an increasing number being worked with and protected.”

Ms Hall said that about 90 per cent of the men she saw were adults only now coming forward about being abused as a child.

She added: “A lot of them show symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder and have a lot of emotions to deal with.

“Some people have been hiding it for 30 years.

“More people who have been abused need to realise it’s not just them and see the scale of it. It’s okay to seek help.”

She said Clean Slate had seen more men come forward following the December trial of Rodney Smallman, who was jailed for 12-and-a-half years after being found guilty of sexually abusing boys when he was the head of an Oxfordshire care home.

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