Act for Kids welcomes the Queensland Government’s decision to strengthen child sexual abuse laws.
Sexual abuse remains a crime with one of the lowest rates of reporting, investigations and prosecution.
“Sadly, we know many cases of child sexual abuse go unreported leaving victims suffering without any support, which is why it’s important to strengthen laws around reporting,” Doctor Katrina Lines, Act for Kids Chief Executive Officer said.
As it stood, it was not a legal requirement for all adults in Queensland to report child sexual abuse.
However, from Monday 5 July 2021, new laws will make it a criminal offence for an adult over 18 years of age not to report child sexual abuse to police unless they have reasonable grounds not to.
A reasonable belief can be formed if a child states that they have been sexually abused or they are showing signs of abuse.
“Although, Act for Kids believes all suspicions of child sexual abuse should be reported, it is important to note that the proposed new laws could have the potential to criminalise victims of domestic and family violence, who may feel too fearful to report their concerns of child sexual abuse,” Dr Lines explained.
Act for Kids is urging the Queensland Government to provide clarity around the meaning of ‘reasonable grounds’ or ‘reasons’ not to report suspicions, ensuring the new law is clearly understood by the community.
There are also concerns that the laws could discourage children who are victims from disclosing to a trusted adult for fear that their perpetrator could be charged, as often perpetrators are a family member or someone known to the child.
“We are also encouraging everyone to learn the signs of sexual abuse and ensure you know the appropriate channels to report concerns,” said Dr Lines.
Signs of sexual abuse:
- kissing, holding or fondling a child in a sexual way
- exposing genitals to a child
- talking in a sexual way that’s not appropriate for the child’s age
- making obscene phone calls, text messages or remarks
- persistently intruding on a child’s privacy
- penetrating a child’s vagina or anus by penis, finger or other object
- having sex with a child under 16 years of age
- showing pornographic films, magazines or photographs to a child
- having a child pose or behave in a sexual way
- forcing a child or young person to watch a sexual act
- forcing a child or young person to have sex with another child
- oral sex
- child prostitution
How to report concerns:
- Contact PoliceLink on 131 444
- If it’s an emergency call Triple Zero, (000)
- If unsure, speak to your manager, human resources at your organisation
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