The image of this poor girl still haunts me. I have to force myself to read about victims like Sarah because it’s important I remain informed, however painful. My pain at reading about abuse victims is nothing compared to that of the pain that Sarah’s mother, and parents like her, have to live with every day.
So when I read that Sarah’s Law (the UK’s equivalent to America’s Megan’s Law) was being piloted in four police force areas, I had mixed feelings. I knew it was a good thing. I don’t believe paeodophiles have any right to anonymity and that anything that can be done to reduce the revolting crimes they perpetrate, has to be done.
The scheme has been hailed a success and The Home Office say more than 60 children have been protected from abuse in the period that the pilot scheme was introduced. The scheme will now been rolled out to eight other force areas and will be implemented across England and Wales by March 2011. Good news, right?
Let me reiterate – anything that helps protect children can only be a good thing.
But … what happens now?
I had begun to write this blog last week but it threw up so many questions for me, I wasn’t sure I was ready to publish it. I asked myself, what happens if I begin to suspect someone? What if I’m proved right? What next? Do I move house? What if I can’t? Do I ever let my kids out to play again? How will I feel knowing where this person lives? What will I do next?
Is it better not to know? No, I don’t think so. It will make us, as parents, more vigilant if nothing else.
But vigilant or vigilante?
I’m not alone in asking these very questions, but the figures released by the Home Office are too powerful to ignore. If children are being saved, we have to take the risk and support Sarah’s Law.
I decided to write about this subject because today’s newspaper contained another horror story about a convicted sex abuser, with over 40 convictions, who has just been released. He was quoted as mocking the government for failing to monitor him on his release from prison. This “man” refers to Sarah’s Law as, “a waste of space.”
If a convict himself can write to a magazine that, “the authorities seemed perfectly happy to allow me to walk out of prison with no idea where I was going. How on earth is that protecting the public?” then I know Sarah’s Law is needed. Regardless of the quandary that leaves the rest of the decent population in.
Does a convicted paeodophile deserve to be left in peace once they’ve served their time? Are they likely to commit again, even if they maintain they want a fresh start? Is it our job or the police’s job to keep tabs on these criminals? Is an abuser ever rehabilitated?
What happens if an innocent person gets wrongly attacked?
You can see now why I debated writing this blog. But they are questions that need to be asked because when Sarah’s Law becomes law in your town, what are you going to do? How are you going to feel?
Prepare yourself, because it’s only a matter of time.