The recent shocking leaked news that a 12 year old boy was
accused of sexually assaulting a 9 year boy in Mandurah left
parents at the affected school angry they had not been advised
about what was going and said it felt like a
The reality is that in WA publication of juveniles' names in
relation to criminal proceedings – as either offenders,
victims or witnesses is prohibited by law.
The rationale for protecting the identity of juvenile offenders
is primarily about the impact 'naming and shaming' has on
young offenders' rehabilitation prospects. Other reasons for
maintaining privacy include the detrimental effects that
publication would have on a young offender's siblings and
extended family and the potential to identify child victims.
In an age of prolific social media the stigma associated with
criminal charges or even allegations of criminal behaviour will be
intense and very long lasting - if not permanent.
It is scientifically recognised that a juveniles are more likely
to have lower levels of impulse control give the stage of their
brains' development, and that they have significantly less
ability than adults to foresee the consequences of their actions.
This means that publicly shaming children convicted of crimes is
unlikely to act as a deterrent to either the named offender or
would-be juvenile offenders.
The stigma of being widely known to be a criminal is also
believed to increase recidivism among juveniles. Where young
offenders accept as part of their self identity they are
'criminal', 'deviant' or 'delinquent' it
increases their bonds with criminal subcultures which in turn
increases the likelihood of re-offending.
It is of course important that children accept responsibility
for their criminal actions and the harm they have caused, and it is
right they should experience shame. However studies show that shame
can be directed at promoting rehabilitation and can be harnessed in
a way that assists the child to make a positive contribution to
society for the rest of their lives. A practice known as
're-integrative shaming' is part of many juvenile
While parents at the affected school in Mandurah are right to
seek to protect their children from harm - shunning or shaming the
offender or the victim will not achieve that aim. Naming and
shaming children is unlawful because it is harmful to society as a
whole when juveniles are denied the opportunity to rehabilitate and
recover from their involvement as either offenders or victims of
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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