This interview is a very interesting read to anyone who is interested in seeing child abuse as a public health problem and trying to find preventative solutions instead of simply reacting to abuse after the fact. This little tidbit, about public registries, in my mind, sums up exactly why the US approach has it all wrong.
“It depends on how it is done. The United States has a state-by-state public registry, where offenders are utterly exposed. The consequence of that is that between 55-60% of them have disappeared, and their whereabouts are not known. In my view, they are more dangerous now than they would have been before.”
We assume that by making life difficult for offenders, and listing more and more people as offenders for a wider variety of acts, that people will use that information for responsible purposes. Instead, people protect against the one threat instead of the myriad more likely threats to their kids, and politicians have themselves a group of people they can make more and more rules against in order to gain more votes, after all no one wants to seem “soft” on predators. Given the public outcry and the ever-growing list of restrictions faced by someone on an offender list, it’s not a surprise to me that so many have simply disappeared. What other options do they have? And once they’ve taken that option, any public “benefit” of having the information is now gone. Clearly, the rate of abuse hasn’t gone down, so this approach isn’t really creating fewer victims, which should absolutely be the main objective.