The Dennis Ferguson issue continues to garner a lot of media in Queensland.
As Paul Norton notes in a comment on a previous thread, the Courier-Mail has been running strongly on whether or a not a form of Megan’s Law – where the community is notified when a sex offender is living in their region – should be adopted. This is the sort of action that might make parents feel better, but the key issue is whether it actually increases child safety. To their credit, the newspaper has run a number of comments from experts saying there is no evidence that laws like this improve the safety of children, and indeed it probably increases the risk of a paedophile re-offending. (And whilst I think online polls are unreliable, I am still surprised that the one on this topic currently has a clear majority opposed).
Online Opinion is also running a forum on the topic. They include the reminder that “it is far more likely that child sex abuse crimes will be perpetrated by a member of the victim’s family than by a stranger” and also state that the rate of re-offending by sex offenders is much lower than that for property crimes. Of course one shouldn’t forget the personal damage done can be much greater.
This is a vexed issue and an understandably emotional topic, but it is still important to try to ensure discussion about it remains rational. Trying to focus on the evidence about what best protects children is the best approach, rather than venting anger at perpetrators (many of whom were originally victims of sexual abuse and assault themselves).
ELSEWHERE: Gary Sauer-Thompson comments at his blog.
A post on Club Troppo, including some good discussion in comments on the issue and possible solutions.