Four boys, all under the age of 14, have been implicated in the attack.
Child safety advocates have responded to the tragic news of the alleged gang rape of a five-year-old boy by four other boys, calling the situation “soul-destroying” and “heartbreaking”.
Three boys, all under the age of 14 alleged to have gang raped a five-year-old boy in a remote Queensland community.
According to police, the attack happened on a beach at Napranum, a remote Indigenous community located on the Cape York peninsula, 10 hours north of Cairns.
The five-year-old boy was flown to Cairns for treatment.
A fourth boy who is younger than 10 years old, is also alleged to have taken part in the assault. Ten is the minimum age of criminal responsibility in Queensland.
The alleged attack occurred after 7pm on July 1. Photo: Sunshine Coast Daily
It is “soul-destroying” and heartbreaking”
Hetty Johnston, founder of child protection organisation, Bravehearts, said that unless the issues that lead to child sexual assaults are addressed, assaults would continue as learned behaviour.
“We need to get serious about listening to children and responding to their disclosures and not ignoring them,” she told the Sunshine Coast Daily.
“We also need to get into serious, early and meaningful intervention. These are things we’re missing.”
Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll called the alleged attack a “tragedy”.
“As you would see, it appears to be a group of teenagers [allegedly responsible].
“It’s a tragedy, it’s been dealt with. We’re working with the community and it shouldn’t happen.
“We’re working with the victim, the families and obviously the [alleged] offending children as well.”
Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll called the attack a “tragedy”. Photo: Lachie Millard
Fears of retribution
According to a source speaking to The Australian, at least one of the alleged offenders has been removed from the community because of threats of retribution.
“There are big arguments about how this happened,” the source said.
“It is creating big problems in the town. At least one was taken out of the community. It is not the first time something like this has happened.”
The three boys, all aged between 10 and 13 will be dealt with under the provisions of the Youth Justice act.
If it can be proven that they knew what they were doing at the time of the offence was wrong, the alleged attackers can be convicted of a criminal offence.
According to the Sunshine Coast Daily, it is understood police will attempt to use restorative justice conferencing rather than laying criminal charges.
Restorative justice “is an internationally recognised evidence-based response to criminal behaviour,” the Queensland Youth Department of Justice website says.
“It views a criminal offence as more than an act of breaking the law and examines the impact on society: the harm caused to the victim, family relationships and the community.
“Restorative justice conferencing is having a positive impact on reducing re-offending rates, with 59% of young people not reoffending within six months of their conference.”