Schoolgirls as young as 13 ask for help after sex attacks

DOZENS of schoolgirls as young as 13 are seeking help after suffering sexual violence.

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New figures show the number of teenagers ­contacting Glasgow's Rape Crisis Centre are rising, leading to concerns over staffing issues.

A total of 49, 13 to 17-year-olds got in touch with the organisation for counselling on sexual abuse and rape between April 1 last year and March 31.

Throughout the previous year the charity supported 42 girls in total with hundreds of different counselling sessions.

Since April the charity has supported 27 young women - and managers are projecting the number to increase rapidly in the coming months.

The rising figures have led to calls for extra sex education with a focus on young men in a bid to tackle attitudes.

Support for young people is part of the Rosey project, which works to raise awareness around sexual violence within schools and youth groups, and prevent attacks.

The Rape Crisis centre employs one part-time support worker and a prevention worker to run the project.

Their work covers counselling, assisting young women through the reporting and legal process, as well as preventative sessions.

Those resources only cover young women in the city, however the organisation would like to expand the support to the wider Greater Glasgow area.

As well as the city, Rape Crisis Glasgow covers Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire and Inverclyde.

Isabelle Kerr, centre manager, said: "We work with young women in Glasgow but the area we cover is much wider and we are not able to offer a service outside of the city due to lack of resources.

"We only have one part-time worker and the complex nature of our work means that it is very intensive."

Ms Kerr said workers were seeing more "complex cases" with young women.

She said: "There isn't a lot of things that shock us working here.

"But there is nothing that affects me more than opening the door at the centre to a girl who is still wearing her school uniform.

"We are seeing more complex cases concerning young girls and we need to ask why this is happening."

Ms Kerr said several of the users were "prolific" self harmers and three out of four girls had suicidal thoughts.

Several of the young women have been subjected to several incidences of sexual or gender-based violence, and often they have witnessed family members being subject to abuse.

The average age of the teenagers who get in touch

is 14.

In total the centre received 3700 calls last year from victims of sexual assaults - nearly a 50% rise in two years.

Linda Thompson, of the Glasgow-based Women's Support Project, called for more sex and relationship education in a bid to change the attitude of boys.

She said the "ease and access" to pornography could be a contributing factor to the rising number of sexual assaults in young people.

Ms Thompson said:

"We fully support the work of the Rosey project and we believe there should be support for victims.

"However, we also have to look at the preventative agenda and ask: where are young men getting these ideas about sexual consent and entitlement?

"We need to challenge these attitudes and we would be certainly be calling for more sex and relationship education in Scottish schools."

rachel.loxton@eveningtimes.co.uk

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