229 Kids on Sex Charges
UP to two schoolkids are charged with sex offences against other children EVERY WEEK, a News of the World investigation reveals today. Shock new figures show that 229 suspects aged under 16 were hauled before courts over three years. The appalling scale of sex crimes among school-age children is clear from details obtained under freedom of information laws.
In that case Mr Justice Saunders slammed the system of dealing with children in sex offence hearings. He said: "I don't think anyone who has sat through this trial would think for a moment that the system that we employ is ideal. But I am not quite sure about what one does about it under the system we currently operate."
Last night the NSPCC said: "These statistics show a large number of children are involved in criminal proceedings and we are dismayed that their needs are not being met. We need to remember that they are children. Young witnesses are regularly questioned in a way that's inappropriate for their age, while defendants struggle to deal with criminal proceedings they don't understand."
Our statistics, based on the latest available figures from 2006-08, show an alarming number of youngsters being forced though harrowing court trials. Those convicted can be put on the sex offenders register. But other statistics show that of seven children aged between ten and 11 who were prosecuted for rape, NONE was found guilty.
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 makes only a brief reference to sex activities between two kids. It states that, for most crimes, anyone under 16 commits an offence if they do anything that is illegal for an 18-year-old. In a magistrates' court a convicted child can face jail for up to six months, and in a higher court up to five years.
Obviously, there are a lot of issues tied up in this. Ironically, their Sexual Offenses Act of 2003 sounds light-years better than the laws in many states here in the United States, where even young children can be tried as sex offenders simply for engaging in sexual play with one another. Some states have so-called "Romeo and Juliet" clauses, but many times those increase penalties for younger children and decrease penalties for older children and teens respectively--meaning, the younger the child is who commits the offense, the harsher the punishment.
The fact of the matter is, it's costing taxpayers money to prosecute every minor who engages in sex play with another minor.