Need to treat sex offenders stressed

Wed, Oct 3, 2012, 01:00

PROVIDING TREATMENT for those who sexually abuse children is essential to breaking the cycle of abuse, a victim support group has said.

One in Four, which treated 28 sex offenders last year, says that with fewer than 5 per cent of offenders ever convicted, there is a great need for treatment in the community.

“Research consistently shows that effective treatment programmes reduce the risk of reoffending, yet most sex offenders in Ireland do not have access to treatment,” said executive director of the body Maeve Lewis.

“We also know that many sex offenders will continue to abuse throughout their lives until they are caught. While good programmes are available in prison, fewer than 5 per cent of sex offenders will ever be convicted. There is a huge need for treatment in the community.”

Ms Lewis was speaking in advance of the publication of One in Four’s annual report today. The report shows the group provided counselling and advocacy support to 933 people and to 39 families in 2011.

While many of its clients had been sexually abused within the Catholic Church, the majority had been harmed in their own families and communities, the report says.

Of the 28 sex offenders treated by One in Four, most had abused children in their own families. The group also worked with their wives and partners.

Ms Lewis said the criminal justice system continued to fail victims.

“In the tiny minority of cases that make it to a criminal trial, victims consistently describe the process as humiliating, abusive and traumatic,” she said.

“It is simply not acceptable that so many are denied a legal remedy simply because an archaic criminal justice system cannot address the complexities of sexual crime.”

The body is urging the public to vote Yes in the children’s referendum on November 10th.