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Young boys accused of sexual assault -

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ELEANOR HALL: To Queensland now where there is alarm among parents and teachers at a Brisbane
primary school over allegations of sexual assault among children as young as five.

Queensland Police and the state's education and child safety departments have been called in to
deal with the accusations. The state school involved can't be named, but Queensland's Department of
Education and Training has confirmed that the authorities were alerted to the situation by its
principal.

In Brisbane, Charlotte Glennie reports.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: The first alleged assault at the primary school on the outskirts of Brisbane's
northern suburbs happened in June.

But the director general of Queensland's Education Department Julie Grantham says there was more
trouble at the school as recently as last week.

JULIE GRANTHAM: The first instance was a serious incident. Immediate action was taken. The
incidents that happened just in this last week were not of as serious nature.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Education Queensland won't give details of exactly what happened at the school -
but it's been confirmed that four boys aged between five and seven have allegedly sexually
assaulted girls of the same age.

Julie Grantham says the school's principal acted on the original complaint as quickly as possible.

JULIE GRANTHAM: The principal determined that the incident was of a serious nature and needed to
have that referral. As soon as it was known to the department, to the school, their school
principal immediately activated our student protection procedures, which is very explicit.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Police were called in and the department of child safety was notified. But
children aged younger than 10 can't be charged with a criminal offence.

Ms Grantham says the boy who the most serious allegation in June was made against was dealt with
appropriately.

JULIE GRANTHAM: When that child is six years old, we take a proactive rather than a punitive
approach. So with a six year old, yes the child has remained at the school but there have been
interventions taking place at the school level.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Counsellors were called in to offer guidance to the three victims of the alleged
assaults. But Ms Grantham says the parents of one of the girls removed her from the school straight
away.

JULIE GRANTHAM: I will always leave that choice to the parent but I can assure parents that
immediately this was known to the school, all appropriate actions were taken. For example, at the
school level guidance counselling was immediately instigated. The school nurse was involved. The
regional behaviour management team came into the school to work with the children and with the
teachers. There is an alertness in the playground. Additional monitoring and supervision.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Another girl's parents removed her from the school last week.

Dr Michael Carr-Gregg is a Melbourne based child psychologist. He says sexual assault cases at such
a young age are rare.

MICHAEL CARR-GREGG: It is very unusual at all for five, six, seven year olds to engage in. In fact,
I can honestly say in 20 years I have never come across it.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Do five, six, seven year olds who indulge in this kind of behaviour, do you
think they really understand what they are doing?

MICHAEL CARR-GREGG: No, I don't think they understand what they are doing. Usually they are just
imitating something they might have seen perhaps on the internet, on TV or a movie or tragically
been a victim of some form of sexual assault and what we have to make sure is that young people
know the difference between what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: But Dr Carr-Gregg says that's getting increasingly difficult in today's society.

MICHAEL CARR-GREGG: The other possibility is the early sexualisation of young people. We do bombard
them in virtually every form of media with sexuality in one way or the other and young people are
very impressionable and this could perhaps be a case of monkey see, monkey do.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: What kind of examples are there of early sexualisation of children that you are
most disturbed by?

MICHAEL CARR-GREGG: Um, some of the dolls that are being marketed at the moment. What I call
prosta-tots. The t-shirts with inappropriate adult slogans specifically for kids themselves and a
lot of the video hits programs very early in the morning which young people do see, some of that is
highly sexualised and totally inappropriate for young people.

ELEANOR HALL: That is child psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg ending that report from Charlotte
Glennie in Brisbane.