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Research Proposal. Public perception of child sex offenders: has the media influenced our perceptions to the extent that it has made us paranoid in this obsessed society?

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Introduction

Kersty Martin (B00472666) Criminology and Criminal Justice Word Count 2,002 Paedophilia Proposed research question Public perception of child sex offenders: has the media influenced our perceptions to the extent that it has made us paranoid in this obsessed society? Background Paedophilia is not recognised in the Sage Dictionary of Criminology (Silverman and Wilson, 2002) but other academics have given their version of a 'paedophile'. In 1979 Paul Bebbington gave an explanation, using quotes such as 'pre-pubertal children', 'mainly married', 'child participation', 'incest' and so forth (Bebbington, 1979 as cited in Silverman and Wilson 2002:29-30) but as Silverman and Wilson suggest, Bebbington does not give a clear indication as to what age range 'pre-pubertal' is. Therefore in 1987 Donald West redefined paedophilia as a 'significant erotic arousal on the part of a physically mature adult to pre-pubertal children or to a child in the early stages of pubertal development' (West, 1987 as cited in Silverman and Wilson 2002:31). Given this clear definition, Silverman and Wilson declare that 'West does at least help us better to define what we mean when we use the label 'paedophile'' (2002:31). For many years there have been child sex offenders or 'The Paedophile' (Casher, 2007: 200) roaming our areas, whether it be within the family, in care environments or a 'predatory stranger' (Greer, 2003:2). All aspects of paedophilia are reviewed on a daily basis by journalists and newsmen who 'decide routinely which stories are major lead stories'(Hall et al, 1978 as cited in Greer 2003:43) ...read more.

Middle

is created (more so in working class communities). According to the Home Office (2010:5) the perception that was shown by people living in communities with young children was a mixed one, going on to state that 'by far the most common initial reaction was one of anxiety related'. Going by statistical analysis less than 20 per cent of child sex abuse cases was carried out by a predatory stranger with more than 80% of paedophiles being know to the victim either through family or in statutory care environments (Hodgetts and Rua, 2008). There are numerous problems 'about using official statistics produced by the police' (Silverman and Wilson 2002:19) as there is an under reporting of these cases as victims feel embarrassed of the situation and having to speak to someone about the occurrences. The NSPCC would be categorised as a national survey as they report on issues that children are worried about. From 2004/05 to 2008/09 'the annual number of children counselled by ChildLine regarding sexual abuse rose from 8,637 to 12,268, giving an overall increase of 42 per cent' (NSPCC). This illustrates that statistically this is an ongoing issue that needs to be tackled. Thus with the media reporting constantly on child sex abuse cases it does add to public anxiety and for the public to question whether or not a new person in society is a potential threat to their children (Kitzinger, 2000 as cited in Hodgetts and Rua 2008: 541). ...read more.

Conclusion

This should also give an insight as to how the public feel about convicted paedophiles as well as raise issues about public concern that may be deemed important by respondents. The survey will be drawn up to supplement local feedback and no other reason. Consideration of ethical issues Ethical issues in this proposal will be considered by the university who receive guidelines from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) in which students may or may not have verbal contact with particular groups (Crow and Semmens, 2008). This research topic depends specifically on information given from someone and their experiences. Qualitative research (if not a vulnerable group) would have included participant observation which would have answered all questions in considerable detail. Due to prisoners and convicted paedophiles being part of a vulnerable group, much of this research will be conducted under quantitative procedures, using statistical analysis as the basis (Crow and Semmens, 2008). Timetable for completion This timetable for completion has been set to suit demands around other subject areas that will have time dedicated to construct assignments as well as examination time and the Christmas holidays. The timetable set illustrates a set period of 24 weeks, starting on the 4th October 2010 with a proposed completion time of the 21st April 2011, this timescale includes both exam time and Christmas holidays, but I have extended these times as the dissertation will most likely not be first choice during other study regimes. This is an example of how the timescale will be spread out over the 24 weeks. ...read more.

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