Child sex abuse shame as worst city for assaults revealed

More children suffering sexual abuse have come through the doors at a Townsville treatment centre than anywhere else in the state as new statistics reveal the depth of sexual abuse running through the city.

In the past year, almost 200 children have been treated at Townsville's Act for Kids centre, compared to 140 in Brisbane, 97 in Rockhampton and 83 on the Gold Coast.

Executive director of public affairs Stephen Beckett said the new stats were alarming, but the number of sexual assaults happening in the city was much higher.

Townsville Child Protection and Investigation Unit Detective Inspector Dave Miles said an average of 1700 child abuse notifications came through his department each year.

 

Detective senior sergeant Dave Miles. PICTURE: MATT TAYLOR.
Detective senior sergeant Dave Miles. PICTURE: MATT TAYLOR.

 

About 30 per cent of these reports related to child sexual assault.

With police noticing an increase in reports since school went back in January, Mr Beckett said it was important, now more than ever, to give kids access to real education.

Mr Beckett said mandating evidence-based programs teaching children about consent and how they were "the boss of their own bodies" was crucial.

Act for Kids has been pushing both state and federal governments to mandate these programs as a minimum standard across all schools in the country.

Mr Beckett said while some programs did exist, they lacked evidence and fidelity.

"What we are worried about is that not all programs are evidence-informed practice, and there may even be no evidence that the programs are making it any safer for kids," Mr Beckett said.

He said more and more kids were consuming adult content, like pornography, through unmonitored devices, which led to forms of sexual behaviour.

Stephen Beckett from Act For Kids. Picture: Contributed
Stephen Beckett from Act For Kids. Picture: Contributed

Act for Kids research reveals 78 per cent of parents blame inappropriate sexual behaviour on online content, but parents aren't doing enough to protect their kids online.

Research shows 63 per cent of parents fail to secure their devices and 55 per cent allow their kids unsupervised access online.

Mr Beckett said mature content like pornography often displayed coercive and unrealistic behaviour, and kids thought this was appropriate.

"We have to give kids the tools to protect themselves," he said.

"When adults and others do things to them, one of the biggest things is they try and normalise that behaviour.

"We have to teach kids what's right and what's wrong."

Originally published as Child sex abuse shame as state's worst city for assaults revealed



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