Max Fleet

Naming and shaming 'could become badge of honour' for youth

NAMING and shaming child offenders could result in cyber bullying, stigmatisation or a "badge of honour", the Queensland Law Society believes.

Children are closer to being named and shamed in open courts as the Queensland Government considers moves to make them more responsible for their actions.

Half of the people who completed the Safer Streets Crime Action Plan survey, which asked the community about the government's proposed youth justice reforms, strongly agreed with naming young offenders.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie, during a budget estimates hearing at Queensland Parliament, said the survey showed the current system was not working and the public was sick of juveniles getting a slap on the wrist.

"We are looking at the issue of opening our children's courts, so the media and the public can see what's happening," he told the panel.

"And rather than young people coming out of our courts and thumbing their nose and sticking their finger up at the law, they can actually take some form of responsibility and Queensland will be able to identify these particular individuals.

"However, we've got to get the balance right and we've got to make sure that young people that want to be given a chance to change their life are given an opportunity."

More than three quarters of the 4184 survey respondents were either victims or had a family member who was a victim of crime.

Almost two thirds of all respondents believed giving courts access to an adult offender's juvenile criminal history would be "quite effective" or "very effective" and 66.3% agreed with making it an offence for a child to breach his or her bail conditions.

Queensland Law Society Criminal Law Committee chair Glen Cranny said the survey was clearly skewed towards crime victims and must be balanced with other objective data.

He said named child offenders could be bullied, see it as encouragement to boast about their criminal behaviour and have trouble with future employment prospects.

"Children, by definition, are at a sensitive developmental stage," he said.

"The society's view is that some allowance should be made for social and emotional immaturity.

"The focus should really be on rehabilitation rather than shaming."

Other concepts and proposed reforms respondents believed were effective included:

  • 76.8% - better support for children experiencing violence and neglect
  • 58.4% - automatically transferring offenders to adult prisons at age 17
  • 51.4% - prolific offender programs