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?