Sexual offences have been defined by a sexual offence solicitor as offences involving a victim who is forced into sexual activity. Sexual offences are amongst the most serious offences that can be committed and consequently come with the harshest sentences.
Child sexual offences have become increasingly common in more recent years. Statistics have shown how child sexual offences have increased by more than 57% in the last five years and are constantly on the rise. Amongst those victims, females were four times more likely to be targeted and a large proportion of these offences were committed against 14-year-olds. This means that 14-year-old females were the most targeted group.
What offences come under child sexual offences?
There are several offences that come under child sexual offences and these include rape, sexual abuse, child grooming, child pornography, forcing a child to engage in sexual activities with others and sex trafficking.
Lack of consent
It is important to note that in order for a victim to be found guilty of committing a child sexual offence, there is no need for the prosecution to prove lack of consent as the court already assumes that a child would not consent to any sexual activities.
How should parents and guardians protect children?
With child sexual abuse crimes on the rise, parents and guardians must remain alert and ensure the protection of their children from such perpetrators. In child sexual abuse cases, it is very common for the perpetrator to be a family member or a friend; it is someone that the victim will know well or be familiar with. Social media and news outlets have shown that in some cases teachers are the perpetrators.
A lot of perpetrators communicate with their victims through social media and online forums. It is therefore essential that parents and guardians be aware of whom their child is chatting with. Usually, children are unaware of whom they are talking to or they get deceived by the perpetrator and so they assume they are speaking to someone they can trust and rely on.
Perpetrators are intelligent. They target those children that may suffer from a lack of confidence or are self-conscious and will usually use this to their advantage by seeming to be compassionate and caring. Some children may fall for this as they view the perpetrator as a friendly person. Therefore, parents should ensure that they have discussions with their children to ensure that they are comfortable and safe and, therefore, do not need to look for emotional support and encouragement from strangers online.
Sentencing for child sexual offences
If a person is found guilty of committing a sexual offence against a child, then they could potentially be handed a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The level of sentencing to be passed will depend on several factors. These include the perpetrator’s previous convictions, character and level of threat to society and the public in general. Cases that relate to child sexual offences will be heard in the crown court and higher courts.