Joan Cherry, director of the Dublin-based Northside Inter-Agency Project (NIAP), said that, in the past two years, it had worked with three girls, whereas in all the previous years since NIAP began work back in 1991, it had dealt with just one.
Ms Cherry, one of the speakers at the National Organisation for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers conference which starts today in Dublin, said that while abuse by young women and girls was “the last taboo”, it was still a very small number.
She said the other development in recent years was the newer type of client who would have been unlikely to come on NIAP’s radar in past years.
She said these boys, typically in their early teens but as young as 12, could be from stable families and doing well in school and engaged with sport.
“They will have got onto the net and become somewhat preoccupied with the images they see,” she said.
Two of NIAP’s clients last year had carried out sex attacks against adults unknown to them, but typically any abuse will be of a family member or relative, or a neighbour or someone else known to them.
One child that came to NIAP’s attention in recent years had been watching child abuse images, but mainly clients are watching adult pornography.
NIAP is one of three agencies that work with young sex offenders, alongside its southside counterpart in Dublin, SIAP, and another body in Galway.
Ms Cherry said funding for the sector is “totally under-resourced” and that the group’s funding has been reduced, including a 5% cut last year.
Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, yesterday said it expects to recruit “towards the end of the year” for regional directors who would spearhead new groups based on the NIAP model in parts of the country without such a service.