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One in nine teenagers approached for sex

One in nine teenagers have been targeted for sexual grooming in Northern Ireland, research from the Young Life and Times Survey has revealed.

Three quarters of them were aged under 16 and many were given drugs or alcohol.

Research director Dr Dick 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.”

The Young Life and Times Survey is a joint research project carried out by the University of Ulster and QUB.

This is the first time that sexual grooming and the exploitation of teenagers has been included in the survey and a total of 786 teenagers took part.

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 per cent contacted online.