29 April 2008

Naming & Shaming

A recent report in New South Wales (that's in Australia for my international visitors not familiar with my history) by a State Parliamentary Committee has rejected calls for the naming and shaming of juvenile offenders. This is a good move!

The issue must revolve on whether there are any identifiable long-term benefits from naming and shaming juvenile offenders, and if there is not then why change the current practice of protecting the identities of offenders. The second issue that must be considered is whether there is any additional justice for the victims of crime in seeing the juvenile offender named and shamed.

Finally, perhaps we need to ask ourselves why we want to name and shame juvenile offenders? Is it to punish the offender or is it to embarrass the parents of the offender by highlighting that they must be bad parents and have done a poor job because the child has turned out to be a criminal? If it is to shame the parents then this is the wrong approach!

Some parents try really hard to be good parents and some times it just does not work out for them no matter how hard they try. Some parents may in fact just be bad parents in terms of they do not have the necessary parenting skills to be a good parent...perhaps more government money at parent training might be an option.

The general belief is that naming a child offender will increase the likelihood of re-offending. Nevertheless, this might need to be balanced against the vindication that victims of crime might feel in seeing the perpetrator of the crime against them named. However, it is worth noting that the use of victim conferencing has been successful as the format allows for victims to directly confront the perpetrator of that crime.

In any event this is an argument that is likely to rage on as juveniles continue to commit crimes from the petty to the serious. Yet, the current law prevents anyone under 18 years of age being identified.

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