The law should be changed to allow children under the age of 14 to be charged with rape, campaigners against child sexual abuse say. The End Child Sexual Abuse Foundation says the present restriction allows youngsters to prey on younger children without facing the full consequences of their actions. The call follows research that found that in many cases of sex offences involving under-age victims, the culprits themselves were also under age. The foundation studied 48 sex cases involving under-age victims handled by magistrates' courts from June to August 2007, including 15 cases of sex with girls under 16 and 33 indecent assaults. Researcher Irene Ng Wai-ching said it was found that 42 per cent of the defendants charged with indecent assault were under 17 and seven were under 14. Crimes committed by the seven all involved types of sexual contact, including sexual intercourse, attempted rape, anal sex and assaults using the hands. 'The group targets younger children and constitutes a threat to children in the community,' Ms Ng said. In the study, indecent-assault cases involving sexual intercourse all involved defendants under 15, she said. The defendants under 14 faced an average of 2.71 charges, higher than the 2.17 charges in all indecent-assault cases. They were 11.56 years old on average, while their victims were 10.16 years old. In one case, a nine-year-old boy raped his seven-year-old sister after browsing pornographic websites. Under current restrictions, a defendant under 14 cannot be sent to rehabilitation centres or detention centres. A probation order may not be strong enough a signal to warn those under age against committing such crimes, Ms Ng said. The researcher demanded the cancelling of a section in the Crimes Ordinance that says people under 14 cannot be charged with rape. She also called for a revamp of sex education for children. Along with information on sex organs, children should also be taught what to do when they are faced with a sexual assault.