New laws on sexual grooming of children before the Dáil

Anyone convicted of grooming a child for sexual exploitation could soon be facing up to 14 years in jail.

A new bill comes before the Dáil today which would add the explicit offence to our statutes.

If passed by both houses of the Oireachtas, the crime would include making contact with a youngster online to encourage sexual activity.

"It is a small piece of legislation, but it will send out a message that there is no hiding place from the law for those who seek to exploit our children," said Ellen O'Malley Dunlop CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.

"The creation of the offence of child grooming will ensure that abusers do not have the opportunity to use legal confusion to escape justice."

The legislation will cover soliciting, requesting, counselling, encouraging, procuring, or enticing a child under the age of 17 to do any act with a view to gaining the trust of that child for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

On conviction, such acts would carry a penalty of up to 14years in prison.

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