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Sexual abuse by children requires comprehensive response

The Commissioner for Children and Young People Colin Pettit has called for a comprehensive response to deal with the issue of sexual assaults by children on children.

Mr Pettit said the recent concern of parents highlights the need for a clear strategy to keep children and young people safe, fully support victims and ensure children committing assaults are given every opportunity to overcome the problems they face.

“Children and young people have the right to feel safe and respected wherever they are,” Mr Pettit said.

“School staff and child protection workers are doing their best under difficult circumstances and within existing legislation.

“I agree with parents that it is inappropriate for children with these issues to remain in a normal school environment, but that is just one of a number of issues that need to be addressed.

“It is time for a new and comprehensive approach to this concerning issue.”

Mr Pettit said a comprehensive approach needs to consider:

  • Immediate support and advocacy for victims of abuse and their parents
  • Coordinated response from agencies to ensure children with these harmful behaviours are individually managed to prevent any further abuse from occurring, and supported fully to overcome the complex issues they are experiencing
  • A prevention and early intervention strategy that identifies and addresses the factors in children’s lives that are leading to these concerning behaviours
  • Implementation of Child Safe Organisations strategies in schools and other organisations that work with children.

Mr Pettit said his office has been working in several areas related to this issue, such as publishing child safe resources and information for parents, children and organisations.

“I am pleased ministers of the incoming government have indicated they will be responding to this issue urgently and I will be offering my support and advice.

“The concerns of parents are valid and must be addressed but it is vital to consider a much broader, coordinated strategy to respond to this issue.”