Bits and bobs

Vigilantes – Causing More Harm Than Good?

I have seen enough in the news of people being wrongly accused of being sex offenders, paedophiles etc. Innocent people have been beaten to death, set on fire, chased from their family homes and committed suicide from the stress.

In some cases all one has to do is use the word ‘paedophile’ or state that the person in question has been grooming their daughter/sister/brothers dog or whatever, and the world is against the accused. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? I appreciate that in some cases guilty people are also wrongly cleared of such offences and that is terrible, but all we can do is hope that if that is the case the truth will eventually come to light.

What has triggered this rant, is a series of articles I have read in the news and on social networking sites. I read stories about how being wrongly accused has affected peoples lives not just the court cases & harm they have come too, but the way it affects their mental health for the remainder of their lives, their jobs and their relationships with their family’s and friends. Once accused it often stays with them forever. After all, there is no smoke without fire, right? Wrong.

Sometimes these accusations go horribly wrong, like the man beaten to death and set on fire in 2013 after being wrongly accused of being a sex offender. I saw a Facebook post that had a picture of a man, clearly disabled alongside a message that read ‘This guy has been grooming my daughter and looking at her photos, share this and let everyone know who to watch out for’  it turned out the man in the picture was actually blind and this had not been the case.

I then read about the paedophile hunter that had posed as a twelve year old in order to trap a suspected paedophile and then shared his videos of his investigation online in attempt to name and shame the suspect. As a result the suspect committed suicide, which in my opinion isn’t justice.

I’m not saying that the man in question wasn’t in the wrong, he had gone to meet what he thought was a teenager, his intentions were clearly wrong and he should have been punished. On this occasion the hunter was correct in identifying a potential offender, but maybe if the he handed the video and evidence straight to the police rather than go on a mission for his own glory then things would have been different and he would have been brought to justice the proper way. By making the videos public, it  jeopardizes any ongoing police case, gives the suspect warning to get rid of any potential evidence and puts further people in danger. 

It also doesn’t mean he is going to be right about every suspect he takes to the internet to expose. Lives are being shattered, families are being targeted via inboxes and telephone calls. Why should an innocent family be subjected to abuse, they shouldn’t be it’s not their fault. These videos, images of suspects should NEVER BE POSTED on a social network.

Not only is the hunter putting himself in a dangerous position by taking this on himself, but he is breaking the law and had previously been warned that he was compromising investigations, yet he carried on doing this himself. It makes me wonder what kind of issues this guy was going through in the first place to become a self proclaimed ‘paedophile hunter’.

So, what is it with people trying to take the law into their own hands? Thinking it’s OK to expose people and ‘name & shame’. These ‘do-gooders’ should consider the reasons that we have trial by jury. The fact that someone is charged or accused does not mean they are guilty, or innocent for that matter.

Even in the cases where people have been proven guilty of these offences, is it then OK for us to take matters in our own hands? is it up to us to punish them?  having someone tortured or hounding them into committing suicide is not how it should be dealt with. Two wrongs do not make a right. I mean, where does it all end? Is the next step for the public to start tackling muggers, or people they perceive as muggers?

Dont always believe what you read on social networking sites, it could be people out for revenge, it could be edited images/videos. If you believe that you have information that you think that can help bring a criminal to justice then call a professional and let them do what they are trained to do.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) say ‘We understand the desire to protect children but any member of the public who has information about child sexual abuse, online or otherwise, should get in contact with the police so we can investigate and bring people to justice.’

We should also be taking more action to  educate youngsters about the PANTS  rule & the dangers of speaking to people online etc. Sadly this wont stop these things from happening. But if a child knows what to do in a situation or knows the boundaries, we can try and prevent it happening as much as possible and hopefully bring the offenders to justice in the correct way.

Want to talk to your kids but dont know how? check out these blog posts

Stranger Danger

The PANTS Rule

One thought on “Vigilantes – Causing More Harm Than Good?

  1. Once upon a time, vigilantes probably HAD a place in chasing down paedophiles, because they were a secret network and the police were very ignorant of how to catch them. However, now the police are linked globally in computer rooms of vast resources and they are not only bringing down more and more of these animals, they are learning about networks and cracking them, sometimes catching hundreds at a time. I don’t think there are many countries now where the bad guys are safe when the police go after them, and certainly, as soon as they go back online, the police are waiting for them.
    You are right, we no longer need vigilantes for these crimes.
    It’s just a pity that the police are not as up to date with other branches of law enforcement!

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