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Where can a child sex offender live?

14 September, 2009

Well, nowhere when the community is aware of their location. Dennis Ferguson who previously served fourteen years imprisonment for the rape of three children in 1987 is house-hunting again. He has been moved from several locations in Queensland including Carbrook and been the focus of much media attention.

There is an obvious need to protect the community but community notification laws, which we do not really have, can be counterproductive. Vigilante action and community over-reaction can also drive a sex offender into seclusion that mimics the secretive nature of sex offending and can lead to reoffending.

To reduce recidivism, reintegration planning is said to focus on housing, employment, education and health. It also emphasises that housing, employment and networks need to be stable. This would be difficult if you were being chased from district to district.

Last year I wrote a paper that examined the relationship between the way we portray and treat sex offenders, the effect on the rate of reporting and sexual recidivism. It included this:

The demonisation of certain offenders in the media, in particular Dennis Ferguson the poster boy of child sex offenders, may present further barriers for those who must make the decision to report. Courtesy of the media it has been shown over the last 12 months that such offenders are virtually prisoners in their homes and are less protected than in custody.

A side effect of the attention paid to child sex offenders released under a DPSOA order may also undermine the effect, while earlier acknowledging its weakness, of specific deterrence. This creates a situation where policy and community outrage make it harder for child sex offenders to live outside of prison after they have served their sentence.  There would be little incentive not to recidivate if the community’s treatment towards an offender and their living conditions are worse than within the corrective system.

The empirical evidence suggests those that attend child sex offender witch hunts may be better off being aware that statistically their family members may be more likely to victimise their child. It could even be the trusted friend or neighbour minding their child at home while they are out harassing Dennis.

While I was unaware at the time of writing this paper, unfortunately a situation like this did occur. A 15 year old girl was sexually assaulted by a 39 year old man metres from Dennis Ferguson’s residence in Carbrook. This was the same night that the Police Minister Judy Spence was addressing the community.

Updated. Dennis in ‘candyland’

8 Comments leave one →
  1. ribbet permalink
    15 September, 2009 7:31 am

    Yes. If the public were made more aware of the systems of sex offender registration and on the danger closer to them, perhaps in their own homes, would they feel they had to indulge in vigilantism?

  2. 15 September, 2009 11:15 am

    Children are victims of sexual abuse everywhere. Who are the offenders? Most likely people we interact with and consider ‘normal’. This means grandfathers, fathers, uncles, friends, etc – and this makes people feel uncomfortable and I think one reason why as a society we have been unable to address the plague of child sexual abuse.

    Much easier to rail against Ferguson and feel that you are ‘keeping your child safe’.

  3. 15 September, 2009 1:25 pm

    Fairbloodydinkum! There are some maggots in this life we should never forgive….but everyone to their own views and opinions..
    mine? the only support i’d give this maggot is to help hold him up to put a noose round his kneck..
    and the ‘be a good christian and forgive angle’? bullshit…..when an act is done, it is done….he rapes or molests your child..that is never forgotten…never…their is no forgiveness…
    sorry to the churchies on here… but ferguson deserves all he gets from irate people and upset mothers and fathers, and those that have been abused..
    I for one can never forgive or forget those that do wrong by me, my friends or those i love……that might mean i might carry a lot of baggage around…but i’m not one that can turn the other cheek…some might say thats a pretty sad view at life….tough…
    The big question….if it was your child he messed with?….has he still done his time and paid for what he did to your child? whatever their age…has he paid for the lifelong pain that you will carry in your heart and your memory for the rest of your life?..
    And where can he live?…..about 8 foot down in an unmarked grave at a rubbish dump..

  4. 15 September, 2009 2:00 pm

    I understand where you are coming from and used to have similiar thoughts but TLOB, it is not going to happen so it is not a solution and doesn’t stop kids being victims of child sexual abuse.

    If a child feels comfortable reporting the abuse at least there is a chance that it may cease.

  5. 17 September, 2009 5:51 pm

    There is no mistaking the depravity of acts committed by those such as Ferguson. But the communities that come out acting as mobs and telling him how ‘unsafe’ he is in their community is surely an example of sensational scapegoating – Ferguson’s – as with many other paedophiles – pattern is to befriend families prey on their children. Those out threatening Ferguson would do much better to look within their own families and friends, no matter how unpleasant that may seem.


  1. Dennis in ‘candyland’ « OzPolitik
  2. Ferguson to stay – at least for now « OzPolitik
  3. Dennis’ Law « OzPolitik

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