Sentences are too lenient for child sex offenders

Sentences are too lenient for child sex offenders
25 May, 2016 Fredrik Frejme
In NetClean Labs

Sentences are too lenient for child sex offenders

While we are beginning to see more public awareness on the issues surrounding child sexual abuse, the case against offenders remains weak. Police forces and investigators around the world have voiced their opinions, saying that sentences for child sexual abuse crime are too lenient, and that the legal system is not efficient in stopping child sexual abuse crime

In fact, 64 per cent of those surveyed consider that the laws are not suitable for child sexual abuse crimes either because they are outdated or because they are limited regarding the need for international cooperation. And here are the reasons why:

 “[The court and legal system] generally don’t take into account the fact that there is a contact victim that was part of the production of the material.”

“There is too much disparity in sentencing, but generally I find the punishment doesn’t fit the crime, with many offenders getting probation or very low sentences.”

“I think sometimes we are trying to make old legislation fit the new digital era. Most of the time it works, but not always. That being said, we are catching up slowly.”

“The laws for search and seizure don’t reflect that many offences occur online.”

To look at this in more details, we asked Thomas Andersson, press secretary at the ECPAT Sweden, on what can be done to improve the situation:

“Crimes where child sexual abuse is photographed or filmed differ in many ways from other sexual crimes. One of the differences is that the evidence of the crime i.e. the photos and videos, never disappear. They will continue to be shared and swapped as long as there is a demand for them, and there is a great demand. Another difference is that the image or the video does not have a victim of crime, according to Swedish legislation.  

“In Swedish law, crimes involving child sexual abuse material are placed in the category of crimes against public order in the Criminal Code’s 16th chapter. The crime should be moved to the sixth chapter in the Criminal Code, which regulates sexual crimes.  

“The current view of the crime is outdated because it does not put the child’s right to privacy centre stage, even though the handling of abusive material violates the right of the child according to

the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The criminal law must reflect this and clearly mark that crimes involving child sexual abuse material are not just crimes against public order, but also a violation of the rights of the child, even if the child is not yet identified. However, not everything is about legislation.  

“Practice should be reviewed, knowing what crimes involving child sexual abuse material really means, it is not reasonable that the sentence for the crime so often ends up in the lower section of the penalty scale, and that the upper section is so often reserved for what is considered to be an even worse crime.  

“Criminal correction for the convicted offender is just as important and, not in the least, society must also offer preventive actions that provide treatment to those who have not been convicted but wants help. In Sweden, there is this possibility with the helpline PrevenTell, but despite positive results, this operation is still not yet used to its maximum potential.”

To find out more about the results of the survey and the growing volume of child sexual abuse material being circulated online, read the full report here. Help us raise awareness and reduce the number of cases of child sexual abuse.