In Britain, we just seem to bump ‘em off

I was going to write about the constant debate and general frustration about what should be done with paedophiles (if Mike doesn’t adjust for American spellings, sorry –then again “pervert” is spelled the same in both countries).

When I started drafting my piece for Mike’s blog about how to either deal with or reduce CSA two months ago, a 73 year old convicted paedophile had been murdered (See the end of the first article listed below for the short summary). As I got halfway through my rough draft, British police reported that a 52 year old offender who had been given a ludicrously light sentence in the past (four months – UK judges are out to lunch unless you rob a bank), was murdered, after having already been burnt out of one home.

There were two predictable reactions. Reaction no.1 – “Good”. Reaction no.2 is what I call the “Marvel Comic Mentality” – “You’re just as bad as the paedophile if you condone his murder”. I see these as two different extremes. Whilst survivors, unless they are extremely Christian and more forgiving than I, may gravitate towards the first reaction, neither extreme caters to victims, survivors, or those taking the journey between the two poles. It would be hardest on the natural children of any offender if their parent had been murdered, whether they themselves had been abused or not. This is another hidden dimension of taking the law into one’s own hands to kill an offender. In all three of these cases I can call them offenders because of their convictions. If an attack was carried out on someone who hadn’t been convicted then that would cross my personal moral line. Vigilantes would lose my sympathy without the proof that can be put into the public domain by a criminal conviction.

Vigilantism isn’t new, child molesters do get murdered, except that in the US and UK we leave prisoners to exact the death penalty for us behind bars whilst politicians, usually left wingers, sit around and prefer to believe the country is civilised. Sometimes it’s not even about child abuse – I could remember two cases of automotive deaths from drunken or reckless driving which have seen the killer drivers jailed for the full 10 years, now raised to 14. A driving victim’s family would be lucky to receive half that sentence levied to the offender. One UK Law Lord with influence over sentencing policy had a son in jail in America. Being the UK, this wasn’t seen as any kind of conflict of interest whatsoever as the sentences get lower and lower and sometimes a life sentence is handed out with less than ten years to serve, with the principle that they get two strikes and they’re out if they re-re-offend – an insult to the first victim.

Thanks for bearing with my short history lesson/rant regarding the last 15 years of the British justice system. Suffice to say, trials are quick to roll around in the UK but the sentence is frequently derisory – in a child abuse case, they may decline to prosecute at all. In America, it tends to be the opposite, a trial might take 18 months-2yrs to happen but depending on the state, the sentence could be permanent to terminal depending on the severity of the crime.

However, even across the pond with Megan’s/Jessica’s laws, there’s no uniform way that sex offenders are treated nationwide. There have been attacks on signposted and notified offenders’ properties as well as restrictions on movement in the wake of the “Child Name Laws” but American readers will have to let me know if any offender has actually been assassinated as a result of public notification and registration.

I’m happy to be corrected but I believe that simply because American sentences might be longer when convictions do happen, it makes the likelihood of revenge murders lower (prison aside). It’s also more likely to be an uncounselled grown-up victim taking revenge in many cases, or a close relative, rather than in these last two English cases, two thrown-together mobs. There’s the other dimension of a shooting death being a little quick and that guns are still reasonably hard to obtain in England. That may explain the degree of violence involved in this latest case.

I just wish the people who wag their fingers and say “[Murdering an abuser/revenge] is not the answer”, actually had time for a grown-up victim of child abuse of any description. There’s a whole army of people out there crying crocodile tears about British Baby P because of his blond hair and blue eyes – had this photogenic baby, killed by the adults in his home over an 18 month period and missed by 60 social workers’ visits, survived to adulthood, they wouldn’t have given a damn about him, or about helping him try to come to terms with his past.

If the abusers get to feel the same fear and menace and threat of violence, abuse and death to the same degree as they once subjected their victims to, then frankly a few more violent parents and/or paedophiles might think twice and if they cannot control themselves or their urges, will ultimately pay with their lives. At the present moment, until the British justice system balances punishment with rehabilitation, a few more English paedophiles will get murdered. As a survivor in transition, I’m zen about the issue, I wouldn’t personally risk a prison cell for my abuser and I was helped by never seeing him again but I’m also not willing to condemn those that dish out instant justice either. Maybe there’s a little repressed envy coming through that they did anything to gain revenge rather than staying lost in their own heads.

Anyone who disagrees with taking the law into their own hands needs to get off their backsides and petition the government and judiciary for meaningful sentencing, which might keep vigilantes at bay.

See the UK Daily Mail Website for the article which inspired this piece, at the following link:

and the Baby P references: See

(and other links in right hand column)


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  1. I can’t really condone vigilantism, for the simple fact that when you engage in this sort of behavior, you wind up going to prison and throwing your life away. As much as I might feel angry about what’s been done to me, or another, the perpetrator isn’t worth giving up my own life and freedom. Then again, I’m not a parent either.

    In the US I am somewhat surprised we haven’t seen more of this. I think one of the things that give us pause is the wide variety of crimes that are reported as “sexual predator” type crimes. I’ve read stories of developmentally disabled adults, with no more understanding and intelligence level than a 5-6 year old, convicted and forced to register under Megan’s Law as predators for no more than exposing themselves. (I believe he needed to urinate, and did so, though there were children in the vicinity.) When you add in 18 year old boys who get charged for having sex with a 15 year old, who may or may not have been honest about their age, it’s clear that not all registered sex offenders are equally dangerous. There tends to be a lot of push to not allow them to live near you, which carried to it’s logical conclusion makes no sense (if they don’t live near anyone, that means they’re probably homeless and could be just about anywhere..)

    All that being said, I think the one thing we can agree on as the proper way to avoid vigilantism, and keep children safe, is long jail sentences. My opposition to Megan’s Law has always been that we shouldn’t be worried about tracking people who are dangerous, they should be in prison if they’re truly dangerous, and all that money spent on tracking can go into parent/child prevention education. If the people felt like the courts were going to do what it takes to keep a dangerous pedophile off the streets, through the sentencing, there’d be no feeling of needing to take the law into your own hands, the law would work for you.

  2. So after hearing of the murder of a man you go “Good”…?! But then you catch yourself by thinking “You’re just as bad as the paedophile if you condone his murder”…? Are you even aware of the difference between inappropriate fondling and murder?

    Then you go on writing that victims can not really forgive “unless they are extremely Christian”…?! I mean, can you write objectively about this topic without embarrassing yourself? Because if you can’t then please don’t. Society doesn’t need more hysteria. What’s next, why don’t you advocate psychological and /or physical torture for pedophiles? Oh no, of course, if they’re systematically sentenced to life then they can be killed in prison, and we don’t have to hear about it! That’s bloody brilliant.

  3. Hello Darius

    I can only have to apologise that the links to the Daily Mail article require copying and pasting, we’ll try to fix that. Had you been able to click on it straight away, you would have seen that the the two extremes of reaction over nearly 150 comments ranged from “Good” to “You’re As Bad as the paedophile for condoning murder”. I did not “catch myself,” nor did I say those two reactions were mine, they were quoted. I just happened to have read and heard the “don’t lower yourself to revenge” view many times in various media (beginning with comics) and drama in general.

    My abuse occured at an religious school and did involve inappropriate fondling, then it happened to at least one other kid that I know of in the next school I attended. Since both of us are still alive, yes I do know that difference.

    The complete sentence was “Whilst survivors, unless they are extremely Christian and more forgiving ***THAN I***, ***MAY*** gravitate towards the first reaction, neither extreme caters to victims, survivors, or those taking the journey between the two poles”. I don’t know where you read that I was saying victims can never forgive without religious values.

    I don’t hate my abuser, therefore I never saw anything to forgive. Ergo, other people, probably surviving Christians who went to my schools such as the other victim I know of, may be more forgiving **THAN I** to actually state “I forgive my abuser”. That’s what I meant.

    Re. your last point, the killings are already happening. The difference being that it happens rarely on the outside in America, and are more likely to occur in prison, but vice versa for Britain, where it has happened and been proven as direct revenge only once in prison in the last 10-15 years but now 3-4 times on the outside, and two of those in the same year. We do hear about it – and like I said, I’m as neutral about it as when I first started writing the piece and those two murders were reported 2-3 months later.

    I wanted to explore whether the opposite has happened in the UK because of bad (and by bad I mean short) sentencing. It’s true that I probably should have edited out the rant and the stuff about non-child-abuse related crime, then again if you’re American, then in most states you still have a justice system that hasn’t thrown out the punishment element like the UK has done, and that applies to almost all crimes. I was quite honest about envying that, so protect what you’ve got!

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