Inquiry Into Sex Crime History: Create Effective System to Protect Children

Children who have been sexually victimized by teachers, childcare staff or others they trust are left with deep mental scars. To prevent the recurrence of such vile crimes, a system is needed to keep people who have committed these crimes away from children.

A system is being considered that would allow employers to inquire with government agencies to ensure that those who wish to be employed in work that involves contact with children have not committed sex crimes in the past. The government aims to submit relevant bills to the extraordinary Diet session this autumn.

This move is coming because there is no end to cases in which teachers and others found to have committed indecent acts on children were rehired in other areas and repeatedly committed sex crimes. Taking advantage of their position and committing behavior that tramples on the dignity of children must never be tolerated.

The Children and Families Agency has been developing the system, using as a reference the Disclosure and Barring Service in the United Kingdom. The envisaged system is being called the Japanese version of the DBS. It anticipates that if a person is found to have a history of a sexual offense, he or she will be barred from getting a job that involves contact with children.

The agency is considering making the system available as an option not only for professional fields requiring qualifications such as schoolteachers and childcare staff, but also for private businesses such as test preparation services and sports clubs.

Recently, there have been moves to outsource the coaching of club activities to private organizations among others. At a meeting of an expert panel of the government, a proposal was made to give a “suitability mark” to businesses that use the system so that they can display their reliability.

The system should be made widely available, including to the private sector, so that children and their guardians can have peace of mind.

Needless to say, criminal records are extremely sensitive personal information. There needs to be some limits to the inquiry, for example, targeting only those who wish to work or requiring their consent.

If the information, by any chance, is leaked externally, it could be a serious violation of human rights. All possible security measures must be taken for the use of the sexual offense records database, for example, against cyber-attacks.

Some argue that the system would run counter to the freedom of choice in occupation that is guaranteed by the Constitution, since it would restrict employment for those with sex offense records.

There is also the question of whether the database should be operated in accordance with the provisions of the Penal Code, which states that when 10 years have passed since a person completed imprisonment without work or a greater punishment, the sentence ceases to have effect.

However, simply continuing such discussions endlessly will not prevent sex crimes. First, it is important to start the system.

Children are often unaware of or unable to speak up about the fact that they are a victim of a sexual offense. Adults must protect children by preventing serious harm.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 27, 2023)