Crimes against a child or the vulnerable ignite strong, yet different emotions from within the community. Feelings of disbelief, sorrow, anger and some desire for retribution would certainly be among them.
When it comes to child sex offenders, the urge for vigilante justice reaches fever pitch.
This week’s federal government proposal to create a National Public Register of Child Sex Offenders would go some way to aid and abet such action.
Making public information such the name, date of birth, the general location and a picture of paedophiles or those convicted of lesser charges is not the answer.
The suggestion backed by the parents of Queensland schoolboy Daniel Morcombe, murdered by a convicted molester, has been met with some trepidation.
And as Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton admits, it’s no silver bullet to curb child sexual abuse and exploitation in Australia, which grew by 77 per cent between 2017 and 2018. However, not all offenders warrant being on such a register (an 18-year-old convicted of sex with their almost 16-year-old partner) and there is little evidence to suggest a similar register in the US has worked.
As suggested by People Protecting Children president Allison Ritchie, why not toughen safeguards? Ms Ritchie believes GPS tracking would be more effective in protecting families and children against recidivism.
The whereabouts of such criminals would always be known, providing peace to parents that registered sex offenders don’t have access to their loved ones.
Another suggestion from Bravehearts is to keep offenders behind bars for longer, something the state government tried to do in 2017. However, legislation for mandatory jail time for serious child sex offenders was blocked in the Legislative Council despite the Tasmania’s Sentencing Advisory Council recommending minimum sentences of up to four years in 2016.
There is no perfect method. So perhaps a combination of techniques backed by police and other law enforcement agencies is the key.