Page last updated at 23:50 GMT, Monday, 20 July 2009 00:50 UK

'It was just normal to me'

A BBC Investigation has discovered that 100 young people under the age of 18 are charged with rape, on average, each year in Scotland. Social Affairs reporter Fiona Walker talks to a man who was convicted of attempted rape at the age of 11.

"Paul" travelled to St Andrews to speak anonymously

Paul, as we will call him to protect both him and his victim, has decided to break his silence. He is a young man living in a small town in Scotland and he is a registered sex offender.

He has four convictions, including two attempted rapes committed when he was 11 and 14. At first, he says, he saw it as childhood games.

"I didn't see it as committing a sexual offence, I seen it as a normal act," he said. "I'd witnessed it all my life, it was just normal to me, didn't think there was anything wrong with it… playing doctors and nurses, that's how I described it when I was younger."

By the time he was 15 and waiting to be sentenced, he realised it was far more serious than that. His victim was a younger girl; her experiences will stay with her for life.

Could anything have stopped him from abusing his victim?

There wasn't anything about sex I didn't know or hadn't seen

"Yeah. When I was eleven, when I first started displaying all... that behaviour when I was younger, if someone had actually asked me what was wrong instead of just assuming that I was just acting up because of my age... if somebody had actually looked at it in more depth then there should have been plenty done to help," he said.

Eventually, when it was already too late for his victim, he was sent to a specialist unit to tackle sexually aggressive behaviour.

"No help was offered, no help was given, nothing was tried. It was just another place for me to stay. That's all it was... I was willing to do the work. Constantly moaning about the fact that I wasn't doing it."

Paul was sentenced to four years. Like many young people who become sexually aggressive, he had been sexually abused himself.


Paul has four convictions, including two attempted rapes

"I was sexually assaulted as a child. When I was about four was the first time and then sexually abused again around about 11… I've witnessed full penetrative sex before I was 11.

"Multiple partners, various partners, tried, well people tried to get me involved in various sexual acts when I was 11 so - there wasn't anything about sex I didn't know or hadn't seen."

Paul believes treatment needs to be offered early. The authorities need to persevere with young people even when they do not think they need help. He believes that is how you reduce the number of victims.

"The public need to understand that this does happen," he said. "It is out there. There is people that are abused, there is people that do abuse and we need to help the ones, we need to help both, not just the victims.

"We need to help the perpetrators as well because if we don't they're just going to continue, continue with their behaviour. It's not going to change. "

Paul went to Polmont Young Offenders Institution, near Falkirk, where he completed the Stop programme, that prepares sex offenders for their release.

But he believes the most valuable treatment was individual counselling provided by a charity for survivors of sexual abuse.

He is now a father and hopes to go to college.

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