Police Probe STIs In Toddlers
WEST Australia Police are investigating 72 reported cases of
sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in children, including
toddlers and pre-schoolers.
The cases of STIs - evidence the children have been sexually
abused - were logged by the WA Health Department over a 14-month
period since July 2004 and passed on to police and the Department
for Community Development.
Six of the 72 infected children were aged between two and five
years, five were aged six to 11, and 56 were 12 and 13. The
rest were older teens.
"At least 95 per cent - the vast majority" of the reported
cases were from remote indigenous communities in the state's
north-west, Detective Senior Sergeant Martin Voyez, head of the
WA child protection unit, said.
Police had made three arrests of suspected sex offenders since
mandatory reporting of STIs in children was ratified by the State
Government last year, Det Sen-Sgt Voyez said.
While the new system was working well, police were not happy
with the arrest rate, he said.
"It shows we have a lot of work to do to bring the perpetrators to
book," Det Sen-Sgt Voyez said.
"From a purely policing point of view, we have to address this issue.
"From a personal point of view, I am horrified that kids as
young as (two) are being abused."
Officers were being hampered in their investigations because
many of the 12- and 13-year-old children were engaged in sexual
experimentation with peers, and refused to reveal their partners, he said.
Sex between children was still classed as child abuse.
"These cases remain open because they are unsolved but we
can only go so far with them," Det Sen-Sgt Voyez said.
"We keep an eye on these small communities to see if other
children get (STIs), and then we can work backwards from there."