Commentary: What more can be done to prevent sexual abuse of children, especially by


Next, should sex offenders be allowed back into environments with vulnerable minors, even after they have served the prison sentences?

In the two cases mentioned at the start of this piece, the first offender was a diagnosed paedophile. The second, having raped his daughter and her friends, later lived with his granddaughters – young girls who would similarly fall victim to his abuse.

I am glad the government is currently considering amending the law to allow for detention of dangerous offenders for as long as is needed for public safety, but I don’t envy the professionals and persons in authority who would have to make such tough judgment calls.

Public sex offender registries have also been mooted. This is a registry recording the identities of convicted sex offenders which is available to the public.

It is important to note that not all convicts are at risk of re-offending, and we must balance justice – the offender would have completed the jail term – against public protection.

In the US, the only country which has a public sex offender registry, 44 per cent of surveyed family members of registered sex offenders reported having been threatened and harassed, with 7 per cent being targets of assault.

It is natural, in the face of such heinous crimes, to want to throw a bigger statute book or thicker rotan at the perpetrator. But clearly, after-the-fact punishments are not a sufficient deterrent. Even raising the maximum age for caning may not be enough as so many abusers are below 50.

Our interventions need to focus on prevention and speedier reporting. Failing which, the numerous channels of protective assistance provided by government agencies will be akin to post-abuse support. We would be applying a small plaster to the gaping wound of a lifetime of psychological trauma to come.

There is no crime as sickening as one against a child. And no one so culpable as an adult who should be protecting that child. While enhancements to laws are important, awareness and quick action by bystander family members and friends are critical. That will take courage, because of potential consequences to the family unit, but it is a courage we cannot fail to exercise.

Stefanie Yuen is Joint Managing Partner at TSMP Law Corporation.

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