Parents left in the dark about alleged rapist at school lobby for law change

Parents are considering removing their children from a WA school after learning a convicted child sex offender is among ...
Parents are considering removing their children from a WA school after learning a convicted child sex offender is among the students.  Photo: AFR

"I had to explain to my 11-year-old son what a rapist is and I'm not happy about that... I shouldn't go through that."

Those were the words of a concerned mother who has pulled her son and eight-year-old daughter out of a school after learning a convicted child sex offender and accused child rapist were among the students.

Parents are lobbying for WA state laws that prevent anyone, including schools, from being able to publish details about a student's criminal convictions.

The two boys, aged 17 and 12, are accused of separate child rapes - with teachers, students and parents unaware of their alleged offences.

A group of parents have vowed to keep their children away from the school until action is taken to guarantee the safety of students - some mothers even offered to care for other children whose parents worked full time.

"The best tool we've got at the moment is keeping the kids home if possible - that's going to send a pretty powerful message to the Catholic education department," said one father.

"[The accused boys] need rehabilitation but it can't be at the expense of our kids' safety."

Another mother said teachers at the school were unaware of the two boys' alleged offending, but the principal has been reassuring parents their children are safe.

"This is the one place I should expect that I can send my kids to and they're going to be safe," she said.

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"The law has to change."

While another commented, "we are not targeting any child... but we don't want our child to turn into a victim, that's the main point here, I don't want my child to become a victim... it's a cycle and it needs to be broken."

The 17-year-old boy was last month sentenced to a 12-month intensive youth supervision order in Perth Children's Court in relation to three counts of sexual penetration of a child under 13 and four counts of indecent dealings with a child under 13.

WAtoday understands most of the offences related to a 12-year-old male victim at the same school as the teenager.

The 12-year-old victim has also been charged with one count of sexual penetration against a nine-year-old boy and is expected to enter a plea to the charge next month.

The nine-year-old's mother told WAtoday her family was planning to move away from the area after receiving little support from the government and living within minutes of the two other children.

Parents claimed the school was unable to talk about the two students involved, and referred parents to the Catholic Education Office which has referred parents back to the school.

Neither have provided parents with details on how the two boys are being supervised at school.

Catholic Education Western Australia released a statement on Thursday stating in the interest of child safety and child protection, it does not comment publicly on matters concerning individual students. 

"Catholic schools are compliant with all mandated government requirements, backed by stringent child protection policies and staff training," it said.

"These give full effect to the commitment to the protection, safety and wellbeing of all students in Catholic schools.

"These policies and procedures conform to the legislative standards determined by the Minister of Education under the School Education Act."

One parent voiced her concerns that the law allowed convicted child sex offenders to quietly return to school needed to be changed.

"I am really concerned they are able to return to the school without any protection for the other children," she said.

"I'm not saying let's destroy 17-year-old and 12-year-old children... there's the potential for rehabilitation – but if the legal system is not putting in place protective measure for other children, something's wrong with that.

"We feel it has to change at a policy level... the education department has a responsibility with convicted sex offenders to remove them from the school."

Under Children's Court law, juvenile offenders' identities are protected and schools are often left with their hands tied if a child has a violent conviction against their name.

A Department of Education spokeswoman has previously said it is an offence for anyone, including a school, to publish information which could lead to the identification of a child involved in court proceedings.

"WA's School Education Act guarantees the right of every child to an education, irrespective of a range of factors, which may include criminal charges," she said.

Meanwhile, the nine-year-old victim's mother claims she has been unable to source much information about her son's alleged attacker and had received minimal support from government agencies.

Department of Child Protection director general Emma White said the agency did not have the authority to remove a child from a school if they were a risk to other students and the Department of Education also confirmed it has no authority over Catholic schools to request a student be schooled in an alternative environment.

A spokesman for the incoming Labor government said the party would look into the case once the new ministry was sworn in on Friday.