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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."

AAP (16-9-2005)
Heather Quinlan

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