There is growing "lawlessness" among young people which has taken grip of many communities across the country, the Dáil has heard.

The House has been debating a Fianna Fáil private members' motion calling for a review into why thousands of crimes committed by young offenders were not investigated properly to establish if the gardaí responsible should be disciplined.

Earlier this month a review of the Garda Youth Diversion Programme (GYDP) from 2010 to 2017 found that failures in the scheme resulted in 3,500 children getting away with committing almost 8,000 crimes - including serious crimes - during that seven-year period. 

Róisín Shortall of the Social Democrats said: "There is a sense of growing lawlessness among young people and a shrugging of shoulders on the part of authorities because they don't know how to deal with it."

The Dublin North West TD said there has been a substantial increase in drug dealers using minors to act as runners for them.

"They knew from experience that young people were untouchable and beyond the law. The failure by the Department of Justice to deal with the problem of juvenile crime has created many victims," she said. 

Martin Kenny of Sinn Féin said sexual assault crimes should not be included in the GYDP because it is resulting in perpetrators getting lenient sentences.

He told how a constituent had contacted him to describe an incident which left her daughter  "traumatised" and put the family "through the horrors".

The Laois TD said the 16-year-old girl in question had been dragged down an alleyway by a group of boys, after she got off a bus on her way to a disco, and was sexually assaulted.

All of it was on CCTV, he said and the girl was taken to hospital.

"All the evidence was there and yet to the dismay of her mother and herself it was the juvenile programme the three lads were sent to and they received a caution," he said.  

He said the girl suffered post-traumatic stress and failed her Leaving Cert as a result.

Fianna Fáil's Justice spokesperson Jim O'Callaghan said young people growing up now are "exposed to the prevalence of pornography on the internet, the degradation of women and the submissiveness of women as presented on the internet and that must be having a significant impact on the developing sexuality of young men."

He also said there is a significant drug problem across the country.

The Government has said it will not accept the Fianna Fáil bill.

Fine Gael's Patrick O'Donovan said the Government wants a full explanation as to why prosecutions did not take place.

He said many of the cases will be statute barred because of the time delay.

However he said An Garda Síochána is looking at the more recent cases to determine whether any further action can be taken.

The Garda Commissioner has also indicated that relevant discussions will take place with the Director of Public Prosecutions.