Friday, September 5, 2008

Student assaults boy, 5, on first day of school

A FIVE-YEAR-OLD boy has been sexually assaulted by another student in a toilet block during his first day at school.

The principal of the primary school, which is not named to protect the boy's identity, said he had written to parents advising them "of an incident that occurred earlier this term".

"An incident occurred in the . . . toilet involving a 5-year-old boy and another unknown student of about the same age," he wrote in the letter, sent to parents late last week.

"The incident involved inappropriate sexual behaviour and the youngest (5- year-old) boy was the victim."

The revelation further increases pressure on the State Government to improve school security.

Holden Hill Police Superintendent Barry Lewis yesterday said detectives were finalising their investigation into the sexual assault case at the primary school in the northeastern suburbs, but were no closer to identifying the alleged culprit.

When contacted by The Advertiser yesterday, the victim's mother said she was "heartbroken".

She said her son had been attacked more than once at the school.

Her son is continuing to receive counselling and treatment from forensic pediatricians at the Women's and Children's Hospital.

She first became aware of the matter after her son displayed out-of-character and inappropriate behaviour at home after his first day at primary school on July 21.

The mother has given a sickening account of the abuse, which included rape, she said her son had suffered at the school. This was backed up by hospital reports from forensic pediatricians.

She said the school initially had failed to notify police or make a mandatory notification to child protection authorities.

But she said teachers had ensured her son, as a safety measure, used disabled toilets during lessons and that he went to the toilet before recess and lunch breaks.

Her son is now attending another school.

"My son will be fine because we found out and he is receiving the appropriate counselling and support. But I fear for the safety and well-being of the boy who did this to my child.

"The questions in my mind are: Has he done it to other children? Will he do it to others? Has he done it to other children at this school since they have been notified?"

Parents of students at the school yesterday said they were "quite terrified".

"We are actually considering removing our child from the school," said one mother, who wished to remain anonymous.

The school principal yesterday said two CCTV security cameras had been installed outside the toilet block. Yard duty teachers were now stationed immediately outside the toilets.

"We are fully admitting that something happened to that young boy in the toilets on his first day of school," he said. "The full details of that are the subject of a police investigation and forensic interviews."


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