The first study into Western Australia’s controversial online sex offender registry says people shouldn’t become complacent about the risks of sexual abuse.
The Community Protection Website, the first in Australia, allows users to find the name and photo of any serious repeat sex offenders living in their area.
Researchers from Edith Cowan University’s Social Justice Research Centre surveyed 162 people who accessed the website.
Professor Caroline Taylor says the results show many users believed an absence of offenders listed in their neighbourhood was evidence that no child abusers existed in their area.
“There is a risk that if someone searches on the website and finds no offenders listed in their area it could lead to the assumption that there are no offenders nearby,” she said.
“Our research found one third of respondents believed the website made their children safer. The reality is that the majority of child sex abuse takes place in the family home by someone the child knows and the majority of offenders are never caught.”
At the time of publication 82 serious repeat offenders were listed on the website out of 3000 registered offenders in Western Australia.
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