[LETTERS]Disclosing the identities of sex offenders
The statistical analysis in the JoongAng Ilbo shows that the number of cases of sexual assault against juveniles is annually on the rise: 2,872 offenders were charged in 2005.
In 2006, 3,459 people were affected by sex offenders and 3,995 children fell victim to sexual crimes in 2007. But the victims are never just children.
An article in Simin Newspaper said that the number of cases of sexual violence and assault against women over the age of 61 increased by a staggering 126 percent in the past four years.
Moreover, the main problem of sexual offenses is that they are repeated by ex-convicts. For instance, a former convict who had been charged with sexual assaults against an elementary school student was arrested for the same crime right after he was released from prison.
According to research, one of two sexual offenders has the same criminal record. This reveals the high possibility of recurrences of the sexual offenses.
The fact that former inmates are much more likely to repeat the crimes than first-time offenders has a negative effect on the public’s welfare and safety in our society as a whole.
Thus, it is never enough to protect our society to merely arrest the person who has already physically and mentally ruined the victims’ valuable lives.
Simply arresting the offenders cannot raise public awareness about the fact that everyone in our society can fall victim to sexual offenses. In addition, that can never prevent any sexual crimes committed by both first-time offenders and those who have criminal records.
In the U.S., there is the Sex Offender Registration Act, Megan’s Law, which was named after 7-year-old Megan Kanka, who was brutally sexually assaulted and murdered in New Jersey. This law establishes a three-tier notification process to provide information about offenders to law enforcement agencies and the public.
Megan’s Law is designed to help protect communities and prevent harm by disclosing the identities of convicted sex offenders. A survey of the effects of Megan’s Law was conducted, and a sample of 183 convicted male sex offenders from Florida completed the survey.
Overall, about one-third of the participants had experienced dire circumstances, such as the loss of a job or home, threats or property damage. This prevented them from repeated offenses and made them more honest.
In addition, over 70 percent of child sex crimes are committed by neighbors, so there is an Internet site which provides a distribution chart of convicted sex offenders in Los Angeles to the residents living there.
Through this chart residents can know personal information about sexual offenders living near their domiciles, including their physical descriptions, criminal records, addresses and ages. This means that parents can give caution to their children.
Revealing the identities of sex criminals is meaningful in that the prevention of repetition of sex offenses takes priority over the protection of the culprits’ human rights.
Some people say that sex offenders need their own privacy, but people who ignore the victims’ human rights should never be protected.
If once they had ever thought or considered that their victims are real treasures to their families and to our society, they would never have done damage to the victims.
Furthermore, the most critical thing is public security and abating the public’s fear for not knowing who the perpetrators are.
It is more important for the public to live in a safe environment without worries about falling victim to sexual assault than to report their harm to the police after they are affected by sex criminals.
I strongly believe that sexual offenders will feel a sense of shame and reflect on their conduct when their identities are released. As a result, there is a high chance that they will not repeat the crime.
Lee Seung-hye, a junior at Seoul National University