Monday, February 1, 2010

20% of Western Australia child abuse in sex abuse (Australia)

Very informative post from INVISIBLE CHILDREN Kids at Risk Action (KARA) – Children's Rights Advocacy Network.

20% of Western Australia Child Abuse is Sex Abuse
Published by Mike Tikkanenon
February 1, 2010
in International Child Abuse and Invisible Children.

As a long time guardian ad-Litem, it always appeared that sex abuse was minimized or under-reported in the child abuse cases I worked on. Uncomfortable to to talk about and often difficult to prove.

The impact of sex abuse on children lasts for ever as is well documented by the medical community (watch the videos on this site, the The Relationship of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) to Adult Health Status at the bottom of the home page is terrific).
This article about sex abuse of children in Australia’s child protection system makes me wonder if their reporting is just more honest than ours, or if they really do see more of it.

Western Australia has worst rate of child abuse: report

WA Opposition Child Protection Minister Sue Ellery says newly released child abuse figures show the government is failing the state’s children.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s report, Child Protection Australia 2008-09, reveals WA has the highest rate of substantiated child sexual abuse cases in the country.

Ms Ellery said of 1523 cases substantiated nationally, 298 were reported in WA. The figure represents 20 per cent of the total number of abuse findings.

“Western Australia has the highest rate of substantiated cases of child sexual abuse, well ahead of New South Wales which has the second highest rate at 11 per cent,” Ms Ellery said.

“In every other state and territory the rate of substantiated child sexual abuse is less than 10 per cent.

The number of WA children falling victim to sexual abuse has risen from 253 in 2007-2008 to 298 this year.

“These figures are even more alarming when compared with South Australia, where there were 96 cases of child sexual abuse.”

Ms Ellery said the introduction of mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse half-way through the timeframe of the report was not an excuse for WA’s alarming figures.

“Every other jurisdiction in Australia has mandatory reporting and yet the number of substantiated cases, not reports, of child sexual abuse in WA has been consistently higher than anywhere else,” she said.

“These numbers cannot be explained away by relying on the recent implementation of mandatory reporting.

“Mandatory reporting may account for a slight increase in the number of reported and substantiated cases, but it does not explain why, even before mandatory reporting, Western Australia’s substantiated cases of child sexual abuse were so much higher than other states.”

Ms Ellery said the State of Western Australia was failing its children.

“Sexual abuse of children in WA remains disproportionately higher compared to the rest of Australia and it is clear the Barnett Government must do more to address this insidious problem,” she said.

“I am offering bipartisan support for additional resources to be allocated for an immediate investigation into why the circumstances of these 298 children are so different to the circumstances of children in every other state. ”

“It is not just that we have a high Indigenous population (where historically abuse numbers have been higher) because Queensland and the Northern Territory, with equally high Indigenous populations, do not have the same proportion of sexual abuse as we do.

“Child protection is one area where we need to be constantly vigilant and always looking to improve the way we support families or these numbers will just continue to escalate.”