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CM: Queensland Prep students committing sex offences on their classmates

16 September 2013

SCHOOL kids as young as four are falling victim or being accused of almost 400 sexual offences at Queensland schools in the past two years.

Students are being sent to the toilet in pairs or threes to try to combat the high rate of sex assaults, with about 100 alleged underage perpetrators facing court a year. School toilet blocks are being redesigned to make them safer.

Of 391 incidents, more than half were at primary school and 42 related to allegations of rape or attempted rape, according to latest Queensland Police Service figures.

The statistics, obtained by The Courier-Mail under Right to Information laws, reveal 11 rapes or attempted rapes occurred at schools in the first half of this year alone.

P&Cs Qld president Peter Levett said parents would find the figures concerning.

"One incident is too many, but there have been measures put in place to reduce the incidences," she said.

Police detective Inspector Peter Brewer said the offences all occurred at schools.

He acknowledged victims and alleged offenders were as young as Prep age.

"We do have young victims, young offenders," he said.

"Child victims being very young are very vulnerable and so those are very difficult cases to prosecute but that's because of the innocence of the child victim generally, but it doesn't mean it's impossible.

"Any offence of a sexual nature we would always investigate to its conclusion."

He advised parents to talk to their children about safety.

Queensland Teachers' Union president Kevin Bates said schools had policies around students not being allowed to go into the toilet block on their own because schools had had "experiences where students on their own have been the subject of inappropriate behaviours".

"Now children go in pairs to the toilets just as a way of protecting them," he said.

Queensland Association of State School Principals president Hilary Backus said schools put safeguards in place "wherever humanly possible".

"In some schools in the younger grades they send the younger children in threes," she said. "It is a strategy to protect young people - that is a vulnerable area in a school."

Queensland Catholic Education Commission executive director Mike Byrne said anecdotal evidence suggested inappropriate student to student sexual activity was increasing.