An average of five child sex attacks are reported in South Yorkshire every day, new figures reveal.
Child protection charity theNSPCC said a record number of offences were recorded nationally last year, with 1,802 in South Yorkshire compared to 1,577 the year before.
Police records of sex offences against children, including rape, sexual assault and sexual exploitation, revealed 55,507 crimes were recorded nationally in 2015-16, which was an average of 152 a day.
In South Yorkshire, records show that 92 offences were committed against children under four years old and 486 against youngsters between four and 10 years old.
The NSPCC believes improved police recording systems could be responsible for the increase, along with victims feeling more confident in reporting offences.
It also claims online grooming is becoming a major problem, with South Yorkshire Police figures revealing that 229 offences had a 'cyber' element to them last year.
The NSPCC is calling for specialist training for police investigating online child abuse, effective rehabilitation for child sex offenders, and investment in early intervention services to help children recover..
Fiona Richards, the NSPCC's head of region for Yorkshire the Humber, said: “This steep rise lays bare just how extensive this appalling crime against children has become, claiming multiple victims every hour, some of whom are yet to say their first word.
“Sexual abuse can shatter a child’s life and leave them feeling ashamed, depressed, or even suicidal.
"Now, more than ever, victims need help as soon as possible to help them recover from their ordeals and go on to lead full and happy lives.
“Government must commit funds to early intervention that better help these children who through no fault of their own are enduring so much pain.”
Detective Chief Inspector Melanie Palin, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “It is not surprising that forces across the region and indeed, the country, have seen a marked increase in the number of people who are coming forward to report sexual abuse.
“Police forces nationwide work alongside specialist organisations like the NSPCC to protect and safeguard children, raising awareness of the different types of child abuse and how we can all work together to keep young people safe.
“We have had several high-profile court cases concerning child sexual abuse and exploitation in recent months, where multiple offenders received lengthy jail terms.
“We hope that seeing positive results like this encourages yet more victims and survivors of this crime to come forward and have confidence that police and other agencies will do everything they can to listen, support and investigate.”