Suffer the children

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Suffer the children

It is shameful and atrocious. A seven-year-old girl was snatched from her home while sleeping, bundled in a blanket, brutally raped and abandoned on a road. Our society is no longer safe from random sex crimes. It was the second sexual assault against a small child in a just a month after a girl was raped and murdered in Tongyeoung, South Gyeongsang.

We have seen a series of grisly sex crimes this year. The latest suspect has been caught and is under questioning. The president apologized a day after the rape in Naju, South Jeolla, promising toughened steps to ensure public safety. But we can no longer sit around lamenting what the world has come to and blaming law enforcement. The police, judiciary and society as a whole should come together to combat sex crimes and pool its wisdom to prevent such offenses.

We must first of all change our attitude toward sex crimes. Experts regard sex offenders as needing to be both restrained and treated due to the impulsive and addictive nature of the crimes. Among sex criminals, 1,600 have been indicted for repeat offenses. The man who attempted to rape a housewife in Seoul and ended up stabbing her to death last month was wearing an electronic tracking device when he did so because of his past record.

Sex crimes are severely punished around the world. Switzerland can sentence a sex criminal to life imprisonment. U.S. courts deliver average sentences of 10 years or more. But our courts give slaps on the wrist: An average of three years and two months, or five years and two months for offenses against minors. Politicians and officials are wasting time arguing over the efficacy of electronic tracking device versus chemical castration. Meanwhile, children and women continue to be exposed to danger. We must come up with strong measures to fend off sex offenders and stern punitive actions to rein in such crimes.

At the same time, we must protect children. A Seoul court ruled that the government should compensate a victim’s family 89 million won ($78,000) for the abduction and rape of a minor in 2010. It found the city government and school responsible for failing to protect the student on school grounds. It must become customary that children are not left alone in public. Parents and guardians must also be more alert about the safety of their children. We must all join forces to protect our young.

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