Girls as young as 11 living in estates where gangs reign are being expected to take part in initiation ceremonies involving graphic sexual activity, according to a leading child abuse counselling service.
Across the country, pre-teens and young teenagers are increasingly expected to perform oral sex on partners, with such activity “normalised” by the prevalence of online pornography. Gang rape is also becoming more common but is not being reported to gardaí due to the stigma attached, said Children at Risk in Ireland’s clinical director, Dr Niall Muldoon.
Mr Muldoon was speaking after a British children’s watchdog shocked the House of Commons home affairs committee with details of the child abuse that is taking place across Britain.
Britain’s deputy children’s commissioner, Sue Berelowitz, said girls as young as 11 “expect” to have to perform sex acts on rows of boys for up to two hours at a time in some parts of London.
Ms Berelowitz said an in-depth study of the problem suggested there “isn’t a town, village, or hamlet in which children are not being sexually exploited”.
She shocked British MPs with a graphic description of some of the crimes she encountered in her research for a major report due out in September.
She said it was “quite common” for girls to be lured via online chatrooms to meet a friend, only to be met by a group of boys and gang-raped in a park.
“Then another group of boys come, they take her to another part of the park and she is serially raped again,” said Ms Berelowitz. “I wish I could say to you that such things are uncommon but I’m afraid they are quite common.”
Dr Muldoon said young girls in Ireland are also being gang-raped by boys their own age.
“We see situations where a girl might fancy a boy and then consents to something and then a friend arrives, and another.
“We also then see situations where a friend might be videoing them and the girl doesn’t realise what’s going on until its too late. Very often, it’s all cloak and dagger and the girl is treated as a commodity.
“Pornography needs to be seen by parents as another danger their children need to be aware of. Parents need to communicate with their children. They need to make them aware that this is going on and that if something happens to them, that they can talk to them about it.
“Also, teenagers need to know that pornography can be harmful. They need to know that there is stuff that they are not allowed to watch. There are things that we don’t allow them to see in real life so why would we allow them watch it on our screens?”
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