Stop sex crimes against childrenThe recent tragic victimization of a 9-year-old girl by a sex offender in Tongyeong, South Gyeongsang, underscores the danger and risk to which underprivileged children are exposed. These children who need care from the community too often fall prey to social predators.
It should shame us all. The people in her village remember the girl as a starving child. With her father away at work and stepmother having fled, she had no adult to look after her. She had been waiting for a village bus to get to school when a man with a criminal record of sexual offenses living in the neighborhood stopped to offer her a ride. Why can’t we prevent such crimes against helpless children?
We need a more organized and effective system to protect children from sex offenders. The community, society and schools should enhance the care and protection of children from poor and broken families. In advanced societies, community workers and school teachers exchange information about needy children and keep a close watch on them during and after school. Even if we don’t go so far as prohibiting children from arriving at school unattended by an authorized adult, schools could pair older students to walk younger peers to and from school grounds.
Schools and community centers should work together to provide shelter and after-school programs so that small children are not left alone until adults return home. The entire society should be aware that any of our children can become targets of crime.
The government should alert the public as to the whereabouts of people released after serving time for sex crimes. Personal data on offenders of sex crimes against minors has been accessible since the law in 2000 and those who committed similar crimes against adult victims from 2011.
But authorities should consider sharing information on criminals who committed crimes against adults before 2011, since sex criminals can repeat their crimes against children. The Supreme Court also advises that information on those with sex crime records prior to the law should be accessible.
The registry of sex criminals is under the jurisdiction of the Justice Ministry and the Ministry of Gender and Family according to the victim’s age. But it needs to be combined for systematic supervision and control over sex criminals. A country that prides itself as advanced should be able to guarantee the safety of its children.