Two boys accused of separate child rapes continue to attend a Perth religious school with teachers, students and parents unaware of their alleged offences – again calling into question a state law that effectively gags schools from being able to warn parents of a student’s criminal history.
The heartbroken mother of a nine-year-old boy allegedly raped by a 12-year-old boy has pleaded for more government support after it was revealed the 12-year-old and another boy, aged 17 – who is a convicted child sex offender – continued to live within the community and attend a private school south of Perth.
The 17-year-old was last month sentenced to a 12-month intensive youth supervision order in the Perth Children’s Court in relation to three counts of sexual penetration of a child under 13 and four counts of indecent dealings with a child under 13.
WAtoday understands most of the offences related to a 12-year-old male victim at the same school as the teenager, who he groomed over an extended period.
The 12-year-old victim has also been charged with one count of sexual penetration against the nine-year-old boy and is expected to enter a plea to the charge next month.
The nine-year-old’s mother told WAtoday her family was planning to move away from the area after receiving little support from the government and living within minutes of the two other children.
She said her young son had become suicidal since the alleged incident and was struggling to attend his school, which is a different school to the 12-year-old and 17-year-old.
“No one knows who they are,” she said.
“I’ve told friends of mine to keep their kids away from [the 12-year-old]…. it’s so secret, so quiet what’s happened.
“We have to pack up our whole lives and move away while these people get protected by some stupid law… our lives have fallen apart.”
The south of Perth case comes less than a month after it was revealed an 11-year-old boy in Perth’s northern suburbs had been charged with the rape of an eight-year-old boy, but continued to attend school.
After learning of the boy’s offences through social media, concerned parents threatened to take their children out of the school if the offending child was not removed, leading the Department of Education to find alternative schooling for the boy away from other students.
A parent whose child attends the same school as the two boys accused of child rape south of Perth said she believed parents would start removing their children from the school if they were made aware of the situation.
“I am really concerned they are able to return to the school without any protection for the other children,” she said.
“I’m not saying let’s destroy 17-year-old and 12-year-old children… there’s the potential for rehabilitation – but if the legal system is not putting in place protective measure for other children, something’s wrong with that.
“We feel it has to change at a policy level… the education department has a responsibility with convicted sex offenders to remove them from the school.”
The comments echoed those made last month by a father whose child attended the same school as the 11-year-old northern-suburbs child rapist.
“When it comes to someone at such a young age, everybody in the government, police etc, just really don’t know how to handle it,” he said during a meeting of concerned parents on February 21.
“Just try to get the rules and law balanced a bit more, balanced a bit more to the victims, to the innocent and the community rather than the perpetrator.”
Under state government laws, juvenile offenders’ identities are protected and schools are often left with their hands tied if a child has a violent conviction against their name.
A Department of Education spokeswoman has previously said it is an offence for anyone, including a school, to publish information which could lead to the identification of a child involved in court proceedings.
“WA’s School Education Act guarantees the right of every child to an education, irrespective of a range of factors, which may include criminal charges,” she said.
The nine-year-old victim’s mother claims she has been unable to source much information about her son’s alleged attacker and had received minimal support from government agencies.
“They don’t tell me anything to protect [the accused] because he is so young – it doesn’t matter who I ring, they don’t give me anything,” she said.
“I’ve had to find my own private psychologist because my son was going to commit suicide.
“[The only support I have had from the government] was when the Department of Child Protection rang a couple of weeks later to make sure my son was in a safe environment.”
Department of Child Protection director general Emma White said the agency did not have the authority to remove a child from a school if they were a risk to other students.
The Department of Education also confirmed it has no authority over Catholic schools to request a student be schooled in an alternative environment.
Catholic Education Western Australia executive director Tim McDonald said any alleged child protection matter in a school was distressing.
“Our schools are safe places that support each student to achieve their full potential in an engaging and supportive learning environment,” he said.
“It is saddening when students or parents believe this is challenged, and we are aware of the burden this places on the entire school community.”
Dr McDonald said WA Catholic schools were fully compliant with all mandated government requirements, backed by stringent child protection policies and staff training, but did not directly respond to questions about whether the two students were being supervised.
Under the Children’s Court of Western Australia Act, a child’s conviction cannot be disclosed to anyone other than “a court of law, a person acting in the performance of duties under any written law, to a person who as part of the person’s duties is concerned with the custody or welfare of the child” or a health department officer for use in a research project.
A spokeswoman for the Department of the Attorney General said the act prevents child witness service officers from referring to the accused by name when speaking to clients.
The service provides victims with support and counselling throughout the court process.
The incoming WA Labor government has been contacted for comment. Follow WAtoday on Twitter
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