Last week the Queensland Government announced plans to name & shame repeat juvenile offenders.

I wrote an opinion piece for the ABC in response.

 

You can read the full article here, but in summary I oppose such actions for one main reason.

 

It doesn’t work.

 

The rationale for naming and shaming is fairly straightforward, if a little simplictic. The three main pillars of the rationale are:

 

· It makes young people consider their actions

· It is likely to significantly reduce recidivism rates

· And victims of crime support it

 

However, research and parliamentary reports have found the opposite of these to be true.

 

In 2008 a NSW Parliamentary report looked into the impact of naming and shaming juvenile offenders.

 

It found “Impulsivity amongst juveniles and their reduced ability to foresee the consequences of their actions reduces the deterrent effect of criminal justice outcomes in relation to juveniles. The Committee found that naming juvenile offenders was unlikely to act as a significant deterrent to either the named offender or would-be juvenile offenders.”

 

So it’s not likely to make young people consider their actions. Strike One.

 

With regard to recidivism it found that, “naming juvenile offenders would stigmatise them and have a negative impact on their rehabilitation, potentially leading to increased recidivism by strengthening a juvenile’s bonds with criminal subcultures and their self-identity as a ‘criminal’ or ‘deviant,’ and undermining attempts to address the underlying causes of offending.”

 

Strike Two – not looking good – but surely the naming of offenders will give victims of crime some closure?

 

Well, apparently not.

 

The report found that in all but the most extreme cases (murder/manslaughter etc), the naming of an offender added to “the stigma of crime, [and in doing so] could lead to the identification of the victim.”

 

Strike Three.

I’m not saying that action doesn’t need to be taken.

 

What I am saying is that Naming and Shaming will not do what the politicians are suggesting it will.

 

In response to my ABC piece, I was interviewed on a Youth Affairs radio program in Melbourne. You can listen to it here.

Author: Dan Haesler, he is a teacher, consultant, and speaker at the Mental Health & Wellbeing of Young People seminars. He is the co-developer of Happy Schools and blogs at http://danhaesler.com/ and tweets at @danhaesler