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22 October 2006

11 children aged eight on sex charges - Sunday Times

by

MORE than 250 children, some as young as eight, were charged with serious sexual offences last year, prompting renewed concern about the early sexualisation of youngsters.

Two dozen children were charged with rape, including two nine-year-olds and a 10-year-old. Eleven eight-year-olds were charged with sexual assault and lewd and libidinous behaviour.

Publication of the figures by Scotland’s eight police forces has led to calls for the DNA of children who are charged with a sexual offence to be collected for the first time. Some child psychologists warn that, because of underreporting, the figures may be only the tip of the iceberg. One blamed rap artists such as Eminem and 50 Cent for “dehumanising” women in their lyrics.

“If male role models are sexually thuggish, then boys are hardly learning to court a girl in the way it should be done,” said Professor Vince Egan, a forensic psychologist at Glasgow Caledonian University.

Of the 262 children aged 14 and under charged with serious sexual offences, lewd and libidinous behaviour — including exposure, inappropriate physical contact and the taking of indecent photos — accounted for the largest number, at 120. Almost 80 children were accused of indecent assault and about 20 with public indecency.

Last week, a boy aged 14 appeared at Kilmarnock sheriff court charged with the rape of a six-year-old girl. In January, a boy aged 12 was charged with raping an 11-year-old girl who was attacked near her home in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire.

... ... ...

Stewart Stevenson, deputy justice spokesman for the Scottish National party, said: “I am quite disturbed to hear that so many youngsters have been charged with sexual offences. This shows you don’t have to be an adult to be a sexual predator and I think we need to consider retaining DNA profiles of offenders regardless of whether the case goes to court.”

DNA samples are only taken from young offenders prosecuted in a criminal court, which account for less than 1% of serious sexual offences committed by juveniles.

The majority are handled by the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration, and there are concerns that the system is so clogged up with persistent offenders that potentially dangerous sexual predators are slipping through the net.

“It is concerning to see this number of young people being charged with such offences,” said Peter Wilson, chief constable of Fife constabulary. “We are seeing an increasing number of young people involved in crime of all sorts, including those of a sexual nature. The challenge is how to tackle this, which is something we are addressing.”

Dr Jack Boyle, a leading Glasgow-based child psychologist, accused some parents of allowing impressionable youngsters to watch graphic images on television.

...click for original story... Sunday Times


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