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“Significant Increase in Teenage Girls Presenting at Sexual Assault Treatment Units In Ireland “

The largest review of sexual assault cases in Ireland has identified a “significant increase” in the number of teenage girls seeking assistance at sexual assault treatment units (SATUs). Conducted jointly by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and the SATU at the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin, the study spans a six-year period and analyses all presentations by women and girls at the State’s six SATUs. The research, titled “Female adolescent sexual assault: a national review of 1,014 consecutive cases,” reveals that girls under 18 are more likely to experience sexual assault before midnight, in outdoor spaces, and by a family member or friend compared to adult victims.

Key findings indicate that adolescent victims are more inclined to present at a SATU later than their adult counterparts and are more likely to do so accompanied by a member of An Garda Síochána. The study draws on data from 5,416 presentations at SATUs between January 2017 and December 2022, with 1,014 cases involving individuals under 18. The mean age of these adolescent victims was 16.1 years.

The report highlights a noteworthy rise in adolescent attendances over the study period, increasing from 147 (18% of the year’s total) in 2017 to 196 (20%) in 2022. Possible factors contributing to this increase include heightened awareness of SATU services and a changing societal attitude towards sexual assault, with increased discussion and available support. The study emphasises the need for tailored treatment, prevention, and awareness strategies to address the unique challenges faced by this vulnerable adolescent cohort.

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