[FOUNTAIN] 'P' Is For Children's Protection

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[FOUNTAIN] 'P' Is For Children's Protection

Adultery was an unforgivable crime in the fanatically puritanical 17th-century America. The rules were especially severe for women. A woman discovered in a love affair with a man other than her husband was forced to wear a scarlet letter "A" on her breast all her life and was thereafter treated with contempt. "A" became the symbol of an unforgivable crime.

A register of those found guilty of committing sexual crimes against minors will be unveiled in July for the first time in Korea. It was reported that the Commission of Youth Protection screened 300 sex offenders, deciding to publicize the personal information of 170 of them. Those screened are said to have committed the offense of statutory rape or sexual assault on a person below the age of 19, or in some cases, children under 13 years old. Their names, ages, occupations, addresses and a summary of their crimes will be reported in the government newsletter. This information will also be posted on bulletin boards in central and local government offices for one month and on the Commission of Youth Protection's Internet Web site. It is as good as forcing the criminals to wear a "P" on their chests.

According to psychiatrists, pedophilia is an abnormal condition whereby one becomes sexually excited through sexual contact with pre-pubescent children. A related term is the "Lolita Syndrome," named after the novel by the Russian author Vladimir Nabokov, which tells a story of a middle-aged man's obsession with a 12-year-old girl, Lolita.

A characteristic of many pedophiles is their recidivism, or tendency to relapse into criminal behavior. According to a survey of 571 pedophiles in the United States, each was found out to have attempted 300 sexual assaults on minors. In the United States, after Megan's Law was enacted, which mandated the release of information on sex offenders who committed predatory acts against minors, the "two-strikes and out" system was passed by the House of Representatives. This sentences those who commit more than one sex crime against a minor to life imprisonment. These systems are based on a social consensus that it is best to isolate such criminals.

Those who will be publicized as child sex offenders might call this system the modern version of the scarlet letter. But while the scarlet letter "A" was a symbol of the insane cruelty of puritanism, "P" is the symbol of the appropriate response to this most ugly and unforgivable crime. Some argue that the release of offenders' personal information constitutes another punishment for those who have already been punished, and that it is an infringement of privacy. But the dominant public opinion advocates that the identity of such sex offenders be made known after a rigorous screening process.

by Bae Myung-bok

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