Queensland Law Society

Queensland Law Society names the government’s shame

Date 17 Jul 2012
Contact Natalie Graeff, Manager Corporate Communication
Phone 07 3842 5868
Mobile 0488 433 884
Fax 07 3221 9329
Email n.graeff@qls.com.au

Queensland Law Society today said the Government’s proposal to name and shame child offenders is not the way to go.

Society president Dr John de Groot said there were specific complexities when dealing with children, hence the need for separate systems for child and adult offenders.

“Children need to be dealt with differently due to their vulnerability, dependence on their families and their continuing emotional, cognitive and physical development. “When you consider they’re at this developmental stage, children need the opportunity to get back on the right track if they’ve committed an offence – naming and shaming throws up a major obstacle to this.

“It reinforces alienation from their communities, stigmatises them and may in fact encourage some to ‘wear the label’ and commit further offences.

“Being ‘known’ as a child offender will undoubtedly be a black mark against a child and deter potential employers.

“Less job opportunities will mean less opportunity for children to become positive contributors and income-earners for our economy.

“At a macro level, the whole idea of naming and shaming interferes with the right to privacy in international conventions and offends the purpose of our youth justice system.

“This erosion of a child’s right to privacy may make these children more vulnerable to unwanted attention from adults in the community who will now have access to their names for unknown purposes. There is also the real potential for cyber bullying of these children.

“This would fly in the face of the government’s commitment to protect children from harm.

“And personally speaking, I’m a father myself and have real concerns about the effect of such public punishment of a child.

“We strongly urge this proposal be referred to the Queensland Law Reform Commission, whose core function is to review areas for law reform and make recommendations based on research and public consultation.”