Girl (10) tells ISPCC she felt pressured into having sex with boyfriend
Tens of thousands of children contacted the ISPCC last year for help with sexual matters, the charity has said.
The children's charity said girls as young as ten are calling their helplines for assistance with sexual matters.
In one such incident, a girl aged 10 called and told charity workers she felt pressured into having sex with her boyfriend.
Chief Executive of ISPCC Grainia Long said the girl was told by her friends to either have sex with him or lose him.
Speaking to the Sean O’Rouke show on RTÉ One, Ms Long said she has noted a rise not just in younger people talking about sexual matters but a rise in younger people engaging in sexual intercourse.
“Peer pressure is still a serious issue… [This] 10-year-old girl contacted us because her boyfriend wanted to have sex with her.
“This young girl told us her friends said she should do it because she didn’t want to lose him.
“In this instance the child was really embarrassed and upset," she said.
“Four years ago, it would have been a 14-year-old asking us about this. Now, we’ve 10, 11, 12-year-olds asking these questions."
Of the 460,000 calls received by Childline last year, some 30,000 were sex related, Ms Long added.
“Children want to talk about sex – they’re constantly inquiring about it and they talk to [us] about it.
“And that’s fine – children should talk about sex. But we’re now worried because we’re seeing a trend amongst very young children towards highly sexualised behaviour.
“We’ve had some quite concerning cases.. for example, sexting has become a major issue.
“Technology is great tool but it has also presented us with new problems. We’ve been contacted by children as young as 12 who have taken intimate photos of themselves and sent them to others they’ve spoken to online.
“A child’s mother contact us looking for help after her child sent a boy she knew a photo like this.
“We met with the child and spoke to them, listen to them, and explained what could happened.
“In many cases, they don’t understand the implications of such actions.”
Recent studies published have shown that approximately 20 per cent of Irish children had viewed sexual imagery online. This had led to children copying what they have seen without knowing exactly what they were seeing.
“We had a caller who said a young family member had touched her daughter in a very inappropriate manner – we later learned that another adult was watching porn in the house and the children were also viewing it.
"It is really important that parents understand that they have a responsibilities.
“When you buy or share your technology with your children, it’s vital to understand the risk involve as well as the benefits.”
Any children or parent who needs support should freephone 1800 666666 or text 'talk' to 50101.