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ALMOST 500 children and teenagers have been charged with rape in Scotland in the last five years, shocking figures have revealed.
The horrifying total includes 19 rapes committed by kids aged just EIGHT,NINE and TEN.
And in one case a FOUR-YEAR-OLD was suspected of indecent assault.
More than 750 adolescents were charged with sexual offences in Scotland last year alone.
But specialist services to treat these young sex offenders have been cut - with three out of Scotland's four special residential units closing in the last four years.
And experts claim we are failing these youngsters and their victims.
The shocking statistics were obtained under Freedom of Information for tonight's BBC Scotland Investigates documentary, The Darker Side of Teenage Sex.
The programme highlights the failings of authorities in the case of Colyn Evans - who murdered 16-year-old Karen Dewar in Tayport, Fife.
He'd been a known sex offender since the age of 11 but was living unsupervised when he killed Karen, cut up her body, stuffed it in a wheelie bin and set it alight.
He refused treatment at Geilsland School in Beith, Ayrshire, where staff told social workers he was having sex with youngsters.
Her father Frank Dewar admits the system failed Evans, who was 17 at the time of the horror, and his victims.
He believes Karen would still be alive if the public had been aware of Evans - who was never registered as a sex offender.
Mr Dewar said: "What's the difference between a 25-year-old sex offender and a 15-year-old sex offender.
"I don't see any difference. A sex offence is a sex offence.
"The system let Colyn Evans down too. He was never given any treatment.
"He was just given up on and I suppose there are hundreds of them out there like that."
Evans spent 17 months at Geilsland but failed to co-operate with an intensive programme to address his behaviour.
He was deemed "high risk" when he returned to live unsupervised in the "scatter" house in Tayport, on the same street where Karen lived.
It later emerged staff at Geilsland wrote to his social workers five times stating he was having sex with seven different boys, some underage.
Karen was killed by Evans in January 2005.
Mr Dewar said: "It's every parent's worst nightmare. She had been strangled, her throat had been cut, her body cut up and she had been put in a wheelie bin and set alight.
"She was a chatty, fun-loving lassie.
"It doesn't matter what you do, there's always a hole there, even going on holiday and seeing youngsters running around and thinking about Karen doing that.
"It's heartbreaking and you never get over it.
"If Karen had known who Evans was she wouldn't have been in his flat and she'd be alive today."
He is now serving life behind bars - and must do at least 17 years in Peterhead jail, which houses Scotland's most dangerous and predatory sex offenders.
Councils are responsible for providing help and treatment for these young offenders. But they were not able to say how much they spend or who is receiving what treatment.
Mary MacKinnon, a child protection and welfare social worker and solicitor for 25 years, insists more cash needs to be spent.
She said: "There are too few resources. There shouldn't be a waiting list, some waiting six months to a year.
"How many potential victims are there in a year?
"We must spend money now to stop this happening.
"We can't close units and say we are moving forward."
Stuart Allardyce runs treatment programmes at Barnardo's where the process can take up to three years.
He said: "We are finding increasingly our services are stretched to over capacity." The Scottish Government is set to take a tougher line on all fiends. In six weeks a pilot scheme to release the details of ex-offenders will be tested in Tayside.
Under new rules parents and guardians worried about someone their child has unsupervised access to will be able to ask if they're a convicted beast.
But Scotland's new Children's Commissioner Tam Baillie is concerned that child sex offenders will be included.
He said: "There is a danger this scheme will drive adult offenders underground but children have nowhere to go.
"These children need our protection and assistance too.
"The most important thing is to see them as children first and their sexual problematic behaviour second.
"These are children with their own vulnerabilities and we have a responsibility to meet these needs."
The BBC programme reveals mistakes are still being made - despite several inquiries and reviews since the Evans case.
And in one case, another high-risk young offender in the same Fife authority has gone on to carry out a serious sexual offence while under specialist supervision.
But Scottish Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill insists lessons have been learned.
He said: "The death of Karen Dewar was a great shock.
"We have done what we can as a government to be as secure as we can be.
"But in some cases it's a constant process.
"Close supervision does mean close supervision but it is very difficult for the police, prosecution and the government.
"If bad people choose to do bad things it's difficult to stop them unless they are behind bars.
"Risk assessment is a judgement matter. Sometimes these people are devious, manipulative and sometimes downright bad.
"We don't live in a police state and I can't force these people to have treatment if they deny it."
The Scottish Government also said: "Specialist treatment is not always required by these people."
A government study in 2006 found more than two-thirds of children involved in abusive sexual behaviour are not formally monitored.
And only eight per cent had been placed on the sex offenders register.
BBC Scotland Investigates: The Darker Side of Teenage Sex, tonight, BBC1, 10.35pm.
Tags: sex, sexual, offender, issues, sex offender, sexual offender, united kingdom, uk, child offender, sex abuse, sexual abuse,
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