Outing child sex offendersWe have failed to protect our children. The number of sex crimes against children is on the rise. The rate jumped to 1,220 in 2008, a 52.6 percent increase from 642 in 2003.
The government has vowed to reduce those numbers and get tough on child sex offenders with policy initiatives that include harsher sentences for the perpetrators of such crimes, but its actions have so far failed to bear fruit.
In a bid to prevent more young people from becoming the victims of sex crimes, the government made the names, addresses and pictures of sex offenders available to the public beginning in February 2008.
But research done by Grand National Party Representative Lee In-ki revealed that only 48 people had accessed the records of March 2009.
The reason for this is simple.
Parents and teachers are the only ones who have access to information on known sexual offenders residing in areas close to their homes and schools and one can only get the information by going to the district police station and submitting to other complicated procedures.
This is too much, especially when compared with Megan’s Law in the U.S., which allows Americans to access the records of sexual offenders via the Internet.
We need to remember that the recidivism rate for child sex offenders is higher than that for those committing any other kind of crime.
The government needs to strengthen procedures for monitoring sex offenders after they are released from prison. Taking into account that sex offenders are more likely to commit crimes in the neighborhoods where they live, information about them should be made more accessible to the public.
There is a bill pending in the National Assembly that would allow the public to access the records of sex offenders online. The bill is in limbo because of a debate about the extent to which sex offenders’ human rights should be protected. While we believe sex offenders deserve human rights protections, it is more important to protect children without the power to defend themselves. Lawmakers should expedite their efforts to pass the bill.
The bill also includes a clause that would fine school administrators up to 5 million won if they haven’t done preliminary background checks when hiring employees. The current law requires the background checks but makes no provisions for punishing those who don’t comply. In February, several convicted child sex offenders were found in education jobs that were supposed to be off-limits, an outrage.
The passage of this bill is one way to reduce the number of sexual crimes against children.