25/01/2010

Sex Attack Victims 'Under Age'

Over half of victims of sex crime in Northern Ireland are under 18.

That's according to PSNI figures that show 56% of all victims of reported sex abuse – including rape, indecent assault and indecent exposure – between 2008 and 2009 were under 18, with an average of three sex offences against children recorded every day.

That means more than 1,000 sex crimes against children were recorded by police in NI last year, accounting for more than half of all reported sex offences.

NSPCC Northern Ireland said the real total was likely to be much higher.

Almost 10% were committed against children under five, according to the charity which obtained the figures.
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They also said the figures show a need for increased funding for children's charities and more education on such issues for younger children.

The Public Affairs Officer for the charity, Colin Reid, called for the statistics to be made available annually to help promote awareness of sex crime.

He said: "For the first time we have a pretty clear picture of the type of offence being committed.

"We are happy people are coming forward to report these crimes but we will now use the figures to redouble our efforts to look at new response services."

The NSPCC, which took over the Childline helpline four years ago, noted that girls were five times more likely to be victims of reported sex abuse than boys.

The free, confidential ChildLine 24-hour helpline number is 0800 1111.

(BMcC/GK)

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