3rd Apr 2012

Need to know basis

Debbie McTaggart

Most parents will have gone through the same anguish having heard rumours and whispers about someone living in their street who is said to have acted inappropriately towards young children. In this circumstance, rational thinking human beings will ensure that their children are aware of ‘stranger danger’ and stay away from the home of this person. But there is the minority who will decide to take the law into their own hands, despite having no real proof of any wrongdoing.

No one wants to have someone who is listed on the sex offenders’ list living in their street and being near their children, but these individuals have to live somewhere. The local police are aware of where they live and steps are put in to place to ensure they are not given access to vulnerable children. Also, not everyone on the sex offenders’ list is on it because of child abuse. Teenagers who post and send naked photos of themselves to others can also find themselves on this list. Should they be punished and harassed for being foolish in the same way as someone who has abused a child?

Victorian shock-jock Derryn Hinch has decided to take it upon himself to name and shame sex offenders on the grounds that the public have the right to know who these people are.  Being a high-profile media personality, that is how he garners awareness for his radio show and website. He will also have to accept the consequences should the court suppression order be enforced.

As the mother of a young child my only goals are to keep him safe, to ensure he knows right from wrong and that he looks back on his childhood with fond memories. I can do this without knowing about who is living in my street because I can have an open dialogue with my son and ensure he understands that not everyone who takes an interest in him has the best of intentions. I can know where he is at any given time and ensure that he knows he can tell me anything.  This is how I keep him safe, not by scaring him with tales of the bogeyman living across the street.

Am I being naïve? Should sex offenders have the right to privacy or should they be named? 

Does the media have a moral obligation to name sex offenders?


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3rd Apr 2012
I think that the Justice System should ensure that the offender doesn't live close to schools and playgrounds where most temptation could be aroused
3rd Apr 2012
I found out that my stepfather had been sexually abusing my 14 year old daughter when she was in the "care" of my mother. I cannot describe how I felt when I found out, suffice to say I showed him my 22 calibre rifle and told him if he ever came near my family again, I would ensure he would never get the oppurtunity again, I would render him incapable. ANYONE who abuses young children, should be publicly named and shamed, we have the right to know where these monsters are located. Full marks to Derryn Hinch, I am 150% behind him, it's time the "justice system" realised the victims are just that - the victim - and the perpetrature is the one who has done the wrong thing, they should not be protected. It's time our legal system woke up to itself and did the right thing by our young and vulnerable, lock the mongrels up so they can't harm our children anymore.

3rd Apr 2012
I absolutely agree with you Doodlebug. Also, if someone who is being sexually abused has the courage to speak up (which I didn't) then the perpetrator should be named and shamed to give the victim some closure. Invariably, too, the victim has been named and is known to have been a victim, so what right does the perpetrator have to even think that he/she has the right to privacy?
4th Apr 2012
"Stranger danger" again this stupid notion that sex offenders are strangers. How about the "uncle,aunt, father,mother,sister,brother,cousins, family friends, neighbors and the rest? And to even think of mentioning teenagers posting and sending naked photos of themselves as a joke in the same light as a pedophile or sex offender is ludicrous. The justice system stinks if it cannot differentiate between the two.
As a mother,grandmother and responsible person my goals are to keep my children,grand children and other members of society as safe as possible and being aware that the next door neighbor who is such a terrific person has a record of doing the unimaginable is much safer than the drumming into their heads of "stranger danger".
I agree with Doodlebug 44. Full marks to Derryn Hinch, I am a 1000% behind him.
4th Apr 2012
Persons who are proven child molesters should certainly be named. I was molested by my much older half-brother when I was about 8 or 9 - the guilt and anxiety lived with me for most of my life after I reached puberty and realised with shock and distress the significance of what he had been doing. I had said nothing at the time, and continued to keep it secret, as I blamed myself for allowing it to happen - this seems to be a common reaction although quite unrealistic!.

Imagine my great distress when I learned that he had repeated this behaviour with my own granddaughter. And then discovered that he had made a lifetime career of sexual abuse of young girls in the meantime - including his own daughters. When complaints were made by some parents, insufficient evidence could be collected for a court case due to the reluctance of the girls involved to make statements.

Had there been some means by which he could have been identified early on in this "career", how many girls could have been spared this awful experience? When my granddaughter's case arose, he was taken to court over that and I added my own belated charge even though it had been fifty years since that happened. Of course he only received a suspended sentence, and had a three-month good behaviour bond since all the other girls that could be located still were unable to face the ordeal of proceeding. This is how the offenders can get away for so long - the shame and guilt feelings prevent most of us from speaking up and taking action.

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