Protect children, don’t just demonise offenders

Knee-jerk reactions to sexual abuse cases that come under the media spotlight are a poor basis for public policy according to a leading Australian criminologist.

Associate Professor Stephen Smallbone from Griffith University’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice said it was time people got over the need to demonise offenders and start thinking about how to implement a sensible policy framework in this area.

“The first priority should be to prevent offences from occurring in the first place,”he said.

“Nearly every week in Australia and New Zealand there seems to be a new aggressive policy directed exclusively at sex offenders.

“Most of these policies are based on unhelpful myths about who sex offenders are, based on generalisations from the worst cases. They are all about being seen to be tough with sex offenders and not about protecting children and other vulnerable people.”

These issues will be addressed at the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers conference at the Gold Coast from October 31 to November 3.

The conference theme is ‘Preventing Sex Crime: From Evidence and Explanation to Policy and Practice’. Speakers include leading international experts from Canada, the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

Associate Professor Smallbone said it was very timely to have an international conference on sex offenders here in Queensland.

“This conference is an important opportunity for policy makers, practitioners and researchers to take stock of what we actually know about this problem,” he said.

The conference is hosted by Griffith University’s Key Centre for Ethics, Law, Justice and Governance.

WHAT: The Australian and New Zealand Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ANZATSA) conference.

WHEN: Tuesday, October 31 to Friday, November 3


WHERE:Gold Coast International Hotel, Surfers Paradise

MEDIA CONTACTS:Arts & Education Communications Officer Deborah Marshall 0408 727 734.