Police privacy claims conceal what might be the innocent truth about tiny tot sex offenders

Alf expects a great deal of shrieking and gnashing of teeth this morning as hordes of harpies and their neutered husbands react to news that a 5-year-old and two 6-year-old boys were apprehended by police for sexual assault last year.

Alf is much more bothered by the news that –

They were among 716 children aged under nine who were reprimanded in the 2008/09 financial year for offences from unlawfully taking a bicycle and possession of cannabis to threatening to kill and assault with a weapon.

That number attests to a great deal of child crime in the community, although the numbers are reported to be about half those of a decade ago.

Police say early intervention has helped, but the national manager of police youth services, Superintendent Bill Harrison, said he was shocked and dismayed when hearing about young children committing offences.

The youngest children apprehended in 2008/09 included a 4-year-old girl, two 5-year-old girls and five 5-year-old boys.

They were reprimanded for dishonesty offences such as shoplifting, burglary or theft of property valued under $500.

The Herald says the 5-year-old and two 6-year-olds who committed sexual assaults were among 12 children who committed sexual offences.

Alas, the Police are giving no details of the offending, citing privacy issues.

Alf won’t quibble with the Auckland University psychologist, Associate professor Ian Lambie, who is quoted as saying children who committed crimes generally modelled their behaviour on that of their parents.

“High levels of aggression when very young are usually due to the family environment,” he said.

“If parents are violent, involved in alcohol or drug abuse or have psychiatric problems their children are more likely to act out.”

But how much of this stuff is serious crime, how much is crime, and how much is just kids being naughty?

Of the children apprehended, 333 were warned or cautioned, and 286 were referred to the police’s youth aid section.

Mr Harrison said youngsters could be handcuffed and put in the back of a police car, but it was rare.

A child arrested and charged for a serious offence could be held in a cell for up to 24 hours but this Harrison bloke had not heard of this happening with a child under nine.

Older children might be locked up to be taught a lesson.

The critical thing to know about the five and six-year-olds involved in “sexual assaults” is the exact nature of the offences. Or alleged offences.

Alf has serious doubts that six-year-old kids have enough savvy for sexual shenanigans as serious as rape, or even a criminally intentioned grope, no matter how monstrous the example set by their parents, including Mongrel Mob and other gang parents.

He can imagine a young girl coming home to tell Mum about playing “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” with little Willy next door.

Or telling Mum about a jolly good game of doctors and nurses.

And he knows there are some Mums who would then squawk with outrage about the violation of their child’s innocence and whistle in the cops to have the brutish tot locked up and castrated.

So is that what it was about? Or something much more serious?

Bugger the privacy argument. Because we don’t know or need to know the names of the kids involved, it is hardly an issue – merely a pretext for camouflaging the truth.

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