Monday, January 16, 2006

The Ruth Kelly Affair.

Sex offenders in schools and the Ruth Kelly Affair. Discuss.

The Moai:
The question is, what do you define by a sex offender.

Now, if one is caught, say, accessing a website, as the law stands one can accept a caution rather than go to court - you become a sex offender by basically accepting the accusation, without any due process beyond that.

However, if one does decide to go to court, one could be acquitted by a jury. Therefore, on one hand you could have people who are basically innocuous accepting guilt, while on the other hand someone who could well be a genuine threat taking the chances in front of a jury and possibly getting acquitted. Person A is on the so-called List 99, Person B is not. Food for thought, I think.

Another interesting angle to this is that apparently certain offenders were allowed to work with certain types of children depending on their particular predilection eg. someone who has been accused of interfering with boys is only allowed to work with girls, offenders with the young are only allowed to teach sixth formers etc. This debate is very multi-dimensional, which is unfortunate as the redtops just want to turn it into 'BLAIR GIRL LETS EVIL PERVOS INTO SCHOOLS.'

The Nameless Tory:
I agree with most of what you say. I think there is a world of difference between someone who has viewed indecent images on the internet and someone like Robert Black or Ian Huntley. There is a world of difference between going onto the wrong website and raping a child. Also, accessing a site does not mean that you were aroused or gained sexual gratification from that site. Someone who has viewed child pornography is not immediately going to go out and molest a child, just as viewing hardcore pornography does not make someone go out and rape an adult. There needs to be an assessment of how likely that person is to harm a child. If there is a risk, then of course they should be on List 99. But if there isn’t, then the law is draconian and unfair.

Also you can be a sex offender and have committed a crime that does not link with kids in anyway. Someone who drunkenly raped a woman, served the time for it and is now fully rehabilitated is surely no danger to children. Our justice system is based on the concept of rehabilitation
(Is it? Well, it should be, but I question whether it is, as it is so frgamented. TM). List 99 denies that rehabilitation.

You’re absolutely right – the problem lies with the knee jerk reaction of the media. Check out the headline of today’s Daily Mail for a good example. Crimes against children are horrific, and we have to protect kids in schools. But the danger posed by these offenders who have slipped through the net is nowhere near as great as you would think from the media coverage. A child is far more likely to be killed walking to school by a car than by a teacher. And an interesting stat illustrating the priority given to maintaining the safety of kids is that with a standard murder, there is a 1 in 10 chance that it will be solved. With the murder of a child, that rises to 9 in 10.


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