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One in Four calls for more treatment in the community for sex offenders

Executive director Maeve Lewis said there is a huge need because fewer than 5 per cent of sex offenders end up in prison.

Chief Executive of One in Four Maeve Lewis at the publication of their Annual Report for 2011 in the Royal College of Physicans.
Chief Executive of One in Four Maeve Lewis at the publication of their Annual Report for 2011 in the Royal College of Physicans.
Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

A CHARITY DEDICATED to helping those harmed by sexual abuse has said that sex offender treatment is central to child protection.

Launching its annual report for 2011, One in Four said providing treatment for those who sexually harm children is essential if the cycle of abuse is to be broken.

“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 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 five per cent of sex offenders will ever be convicted of their crimes. There is a huge need for treatment in the community.”

Last year, One in Four provided treatment to 28 sex offenders, most of whom had abused children in their own families.

Throughout 2011, 933 people and 39 families received counselling or assistance through One in Four’s advocacy programmes. While some have been sexually abused within the Catholic church, the majority have been harmed in their own families or communities.

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“Sadly, the criminal justice systems continue to fail them,” said Lewis. “In the tiny minority of cases that make it to a criminal trial – just 20 One in Four clients last year – victims consistently describe the process as humiliating, abusive and traumatic.

“One in four Irish people experience sexual violence. It is simply not acceptable that so many of them are denied a legal remedy simply because an archaic criminal justice system cannot address the complexities of sexual crime.”

During the launch, Lewis also called for a Yes vote in the upcoming Children’s Rights Referendum.

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