Preventing child sex crimes

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Preventing child sex crimes

The rape case of 8-year-old Na-young is rattling the nation. But simply expressing anger over the this brutal crime will not bring fundamental change to the country.

Before Na-young’s case was made public, many other innocent children were victimized by child molesters. The nation was whipped up into a frenzy when Hye-jin, 11, and Ye-seul, 8, were kidnapped, sexually assaulted and strangled in Anyang in 2007. These types of sexual abuse cases involving children riled up and outraged the nation, but the anger quickly dispelled.

It is a sad state of affairs. The number of children who have become victims of sexual abuse increased nearly twofold over a five-year period, from 642 cases in 2003 to 1,220 in 2008.

This time, we must hold onto our anger over Na-young’s case and not let it subside like we have in the past. Appropriate legal measures should be mapped out to deter sexual abuse against children. Authorities need to take all possible moves to scare sexual molesters, showing that they will eventually be caught and pay a harsh price for committing wrongdoings. Extending the statute of limitations for child sex offenders until the victim becomes an adult and bringing more psychologists to police stations to induce crucial testimonies could go a long way in helping. Also, the government needs to introduce a criminal DNA bank as soon as possible. Although there are valid human rights questions about such a move, it would be an effective measure to stem this growing problem.

As President Lee Myung-bak has stated, government officials need to seriously consider permanently separating people who sexual molest children from the rest of society. Releasing information about child sex offenders - such as their addresses, full names and pictures - to the public and requiring them to wear electronic anklets for their rest of their lives could further help.

These suggested measures, however, are not enough to prevent repeat offenders. After their release, many sex offenders in other countries change their names and some commit crimes again, even with while wearing a monitoring anklet.

Limited resources and budgets also hinder police from tackling this issue head-on. The government needs to change related laws to allow the courts to hand down heavier sentences. And these sex offenders should not be given the options of paroles or pardons. The government also needs to consider introducing a bill that would make sex offenders undergo chemical castration, similar to the laws in some other countries.
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