According to an article in the Huffington Post, a 12 year old boy in the Alberta town of Lethbridge is facing multiple charges in the sexual assault of his two younger sisters. The charges include incest, sexual assault, sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching. The article in the Huffington Post gives the ages of the three children which I find troubling since that level of information given in a case in a small town does identify the victims.
But, more worryingly, the article suggests the boy has been released from custody with the stipulation that he not be left alone with any child under the age of 12 without the supervision of an adult. It is absolutely inappropriate and unethical for any information to be released about this case as it will identify the victims, yet, I have to ask whose custody has the boy been released into: his parents? foster care? If he has been released into foster care, is the carer trained to deal with a juvenile sexual predator? If he has been released into his parents care, where are his sisters? How, exactly, will the courts ensure the child is never left alone with other children? Will he be allowed to return to school? And, if so, what safety procedures has the school put in place for recess and bathroom breaks? Are the police investigating the potential sexual abuse of the young boy since it is possible that he was acting out abuse perpetrated on him? Are the whole family being given appropriate support and mandatory counselling?
We can’t ever know the answers to these questions because the two young girls in this case deserve anonymity. But, I do worry that, as ever, the criminal justice system – even the juvenile one – does not deal appropriately with children who commit sexual violence and that social services do not have the resources or training to support the two young girls.