Northern Ireland

One in nine Northern Ireland teens 'approached for sex'

Online grooming
Image caption The study found that 17% of the contacts started online

One in nine Northern Ireland teenagers have been approached by an adult seeking some kind of sexual contact with them, according to a new study.

The study is the work of researchers at Queen's University and the University of Ulster.

They found three quarters of the teenagers who had experienced sexual grooming were under 16 when it happened.

Other children targeted were as young as seven.

In about a third of cases of grooming, sexual contact then actually happened.

Director of the Young Life and Times survey, Dirk Schubotz, said: "The fact that a sizeable proportion of respondents had been affected by grooming or attempts to take advantage of them sexually, mostly before they had reached the age of consent, reminds us about the vulnerability of young people."

A total of 786 teenagers across Northern Ireland completed the survey.

Key findings include:

  • In almost half the cases of grooming the perpetrator was at least seven years older than the victim;
  • One in 15 of those asked said they had been given drugs or alcohol and were then taken advantage of sexually;
  • One in 20 had been offered something in return for taking part in sexual activity. Almost two thirds had not told anyone in authority that this had happened
  • Over half were initially contacted on the street, through a friend or sibling or in a pub or club with 17% contacted online.

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