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Surge in children seeking sex abuse help

There has been a 43pc increase in calls to a children's helpline about rape and sexual assault since 2012.

A new report by the voluntary organisation CARI highlights a rise in calls over sexual assault and rape that was first recognised in 2012 and has continued at a worrying rate ever since.

CARI provides support to children and families affected by child sex abuse, with their helpline insisting that the most at-risk group are females under the age of 13.

Many of the calls were on sexual assault on teenagers, where the perpetrators were also said to be teenagers.

There has also been a significant increase in referrals of sexualised behaviour among under 12s, according to CEO of CARI, Mary Flaherty.

"What is particularly disturbing is that the teenagers report being further traumatised by the fact that these assaults were viewed and discussed by their peers on social media sites which often led to the isolation and bullying of victims," she said.

"A treatment programme for sexualised behaviour in young children is urgently needed. A significant proportion of referrals to CARI in recent years are for such behaviours in the under-12 age group," said Mrs Flaherty.

The organisation said that due to a lack of funding, there has been an overall drop of 29pc in therapy hours for children, with waiting lists of up to 12 months in Dublin and Limerick.

Irish Independent