Following the name and shame campaign against child abusers that the News of the world introduced, a crowd of 150 people decided to take over and surrounded a home of a convicted and released paedophile. Cars were burned; windows were broken. They broke into the house and killed a fish and a bird. Infact, it was a picture of mass hysteria and mob fever. Police had to be called to try and restrain the crowd from causing any more damage and possibly attack to the homeowner. What's more one of the police officers was injured while trying to control the crowd. And the offender wasn't even home.
In fact by trying to punish a man who had already served his sentence, 150 people committed a serious crime.
This is terrible in itself. But it is even more absurd and senseless when the man concerned turns out to be innocent.
Innocent people can be pursued because they have the same name as a child abuser or the pictures on the papers are not very clear and are vaguely similar to them.
Innocent people can be pursued because they have the same name or the pictures in the papers are not very clear and they look vaguely similar.
One example of an innocent victim of the name and shame campaign is Michael Horbury. He had the same name as a child abuser also living in the south. He was driven out of his home and community and is now in need of police protection. An innocent life was ruined by the name and shame campaign.
Some people might say that a few ruined lives are worth the protection of our children. But in reality, the name and shame campaign is thought to increase the risk to our children. This is because the name and shame campaign forces a lot of the child abusers to flee and go underground and out of the watchful eyes of the authorities.
There are other misunderstandings about the subject. One is that many of the children of the parents who are concerned are not in danger. This is because most of the paedophiles only attack children they know and do not as the popular perception seems to be pounce on any child.
Another is that most people do not know that there are laws that restrict the movement of paedophiles outside prison. Infact there are. For example, they cannot go to many places where children 14 or under may be present.
The third and most crucial misunderstanding is the fact that the whereabouts of a paedophile is not made public knowledge does NOT mean that people aren't informed when thought necessary by the authorities.
Another point that so many people seem to overlook is that why should paedophiles be named and shamed when killers and rapists can enjoy remaining unidentified? True some killers and rapists may be named but there is not a campaign that ruins their lives.
We agree that the police and other authorities should keep an even closer eye on them but what people need to realise is that child abusers are not monsters. They are people. They deserve the same rights as anybody. This includes a fair trial ands for the public to act as judge, jury and executor has never been, never is and never will be right.
Police are worried that if newspapers like the News of the world which you may be interested to know, condemns child pornography and published a topless picture of a nineteen year old girl in the same issue, continues the campaign there will be lynching. It is illegal, it is wrong and if the person turns out to be innocent, "ÃÂÃÂ¦well, I'll leave this scenario to your imagination.
Also, the police say that most of the people who had mobbed homes belonging to paedophiles and took part in violent protest marches, were not concerned parents but just thugs who take advantage of the public hysteria that the name and shame campaign created.
Now I expect there are people who are for the name and shame campaign and who will comment after I finish this speech. But before you speak, please ask yourselves: Is a campaign that drove two people to suicide, that turned normal people into criminals, that ruins lives including innocent ones and that may actually increase the risk of child abuse, a good idea? Five wrongs don't make a right.