THERE is a name that, when mentioned, conjures tremendous, intensive debate and hateful, vicious emotions in the hearts and minds of most Australians.
Dennis Ferguson is a vile creature, no doubt about it, but there is a bigger picture here.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, in 2009-2010 there were over 48,000 reported cases of child abuse in Australia, with over 12% being sexual abuse cases. However these statistics do not highlight the full extent of the issue, for a number of reasons.
Firstly, this data excludes abuse perpetrated by a non-family member or person known to the family (these are dealt strictly with police not child protection services).
Secondly, these statistics only represent cases reported to child protection services (again, not police).
Due to the confidential and personal nature of the crime, Australian statistics for child sexual abuse are non-existent or unverified. All sexual abuse statistics, regardless of age, are grouped together in State and Territory Police reporting.
Statistics from the United States are generally thought to be accurate for Australian society also. The alarming statistics are as follows:
30% sexual abuse offenders are relatives of the child
60% are acquaintances (friends of the family, babysitters, neighbours, etc)
10% are strangers
Sure no one wants Dennis Ferguson or any other known sex offender to be living near them *cue the debate over accessible sex offender lists (like in the US) or “send them back to jail” arguments*.The sad, scary fact of reality is, however, the face of paedophilia is likely to be far more familiar to you and your children than Dennis Ferguson’s beady eyed, creepy mug. Don’t let the Daniel Morcombe tragedy make you forget that “stranger danger” is not the only danger lurking in the world.