Sex offender treatment in demand for kids
stuff.co.nz, March 6, 2008
A Christchurch agency that treats sexual offenders is now dealing with children as young as five
STOP Trust manager Don Mortensen said the age of pre-adolescents they were treating had got lower in the past few years, and they now were seeing some children in their first year of primary school.
While it is described as sexually inappropriate behaviour, some of it would be serious enough to warrant charges if the offender was older.
Schools are able to access funding for assistance through the Interim Response Fund which was set up a year ago for emergencies such as sexually inappropriate behaviour, violence or risk of self-harm.
Twenty-five Christchurch primary schools applied for funding in the last year.
Adolescent services clinical team leader Maureen Lorimer said it was the demand from schools that prompted STOP to set up the children's programme three years ago.
Initially, the child displaying the behaviour is accompanied by a support person, or tracker, to ensure the safety of others.
Lorimer said there was a tendency for the school and parents of other children to panic and want the child's removal, but that was counter-productive in the long-run.
Mortensen said there was no one reason why more young children were acting inappropriately, but they knew more at a young age than in the past.
The STOP Trust has run adolescent programmes for 15 years but it is only recently that the age of children demonstrating inappropriate behaviour has plummeted.