More than 21,000 child sex offences were recorded in England and Wales last year, figures have revealed.
An average of 60 sex crimes against youngsters were recorded every day, according to data from 43 police forces.
Of the 21,618 cases of abuse - including rape, gross indecency and incest - between April 2008 and March 2009, one in seven victims were younger than 10 and 1,000 were five and under.
The "shocking" statistics were obtained by a Freedom of Information request by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).
In more than three out of four cases the offences were committed against 10 to 17-year-olds.
Phillip Noyes, the NSPCC's director of strategy and development, said: "It's a shocking picture - even more so because these are only offences reported to the police. We believe the true extent of the problem is far worse. Some of these children are so young they can't tell anyone what is happening."
The statistics show girls were six times more likely than boys to be the victims of a sex crime.
And the number of incidents where the offender knew the victim was four times higher than those involving strangers.
A NSPCC spokesman added: "This is the second year the NSPCC has collected this data and is again calling on the UK Government to publish these details and to clearly link them with the number of convictions and other penalties resulting from the recorded offences.
"This information could then feed into a national sex abuse prevention strategy as well as helping the development of local services to treat child victims."