Porn blamed as sex offences by juveniles treble

THE number of sex crimes carried out by juveniles has nearly trebled, official figures show.

Both rape crisis groups and Garda sources have suggested that easier access to hard-core pornography is a factor in the increase.

Figures on juvenile crime also show a doubling in the number of robberies perpetrated by juveniles (between the ages of 10 and 18). Gardaí say much of this involves the robbery of smartphones.

The 2010 report of the Garda Diversion Programme shows that the total number of offences carried out by juveniles rose by 14% in 2010. This has happened as the number of child offenders fell by 3%.

Gardaí say some of the rise in offences is due to changes in the recording system, which now records all crimes involving juveniles. Previously, some of the more minor offences, such as thefts, were not fully recorded.

However, gardaí say all of the more serious crimes, such as sexual offences, were previously recorded, so this could not explain the sharp rise in this area.

Gardaí suspect the rise in sex crimes is due to an increase in both incidents and reporting.

The number of such offences rose from 74 in 2009 to 195 last year. There were 102 sex offences in 2008, 87 in 2007 and 82 in 2006.

Last year’s figures include 50 rapes on a male or female (17 in 2009) and 119 cases of sexual assault (40). There were 10 cases of defilement of a boy or girl under the age of 17 (9).

“It is terribly worrying to see such a big jump like that. It is absolutely shocking,” said Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop, the chief executive of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre. “There is no doubt that easy access to hard-core pornography on phones, on computers, is a factor. There is research that supports that conclusion.

“When someone is exposed to hard-core pornography, it definitely desensitises them, particularly at a young age, when young people are developing.”

A Garda source said: “We have no research on it, but every young person now has a mobile phone and has access to pornography. There is overexposure. They see things and expect this from girls.”

He said greater reporting could also be a factor.

Gardaí say a positive trend in the overall figures is a fall in the number of offenders.

* For more see www.iyjs.ie.

* National 24-hour rape crisis helpline: 1800 77 88 88


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