Eleven children aged eight on sex charges
The Sunday Times, Scotland, October 22, 2006
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 ten-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.
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.
Margaret Mitchell, justice spokeswoman for the Scottish Conservatives, called the figures "very worrying". She said:
Stewart Stevenson, deputy justice spokesman for the Scottish National party, said:
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.
Dr Jack Boyle, a leading Glasgow-based child psychologist, accused some parents of allowing impressionable youngsters to watch graphic images on television.