The government’s package of measures, with which, among other things, the portrayal of child abuse is to be combated, caused mixed reactions among experts on Wednesday. Criminal sociologist Reinhard Kreissl, head of the Vienna Center for Societal Security, denied that higher penalties had any preventive effect and identified populism. “The package is really very positive and meets long-standing demands,” said “Möwe” managing director Hedwig Wölfl.
Wölfl particularly welcomed the child protection campaign. “We are very happy about this awareness-raising, which should encourage people to take a closer look. It’s great that the government has decided to focus on this.” Prevention is one of the most effective measures, the expert affirmed. She also rated positively the obligation to inform, the quality assurance for child protection and the child protection concepts in schools. “But I also have to say that the current framework is hardly being exhausted.” In addition, procedures would also be discontinued and there would be a huge number of unreported cases. Wölfl would like the child protection centers and facilities to be further strengthened, which are absolutely necessary for the care of suspected cases and for process support. The established area can be used for follow-up treatment if necessary. “There is no correlation between the level of punishment and deterrence,” Kreissl made clear, citing numerous studies. The only deterrent for potential perpetrators is a high risk of being caught. It is also important that the punishment follows the crime as quickly as possible. There is a causal connection here. Socio-pedagogical processing would be more successful The announced higher penalties are a “simple, cheap method” of the government to show that “we are doing something”, said the criminal sociologist. It brings nothing, but “you can sell it well”. Long prison sentences are counterproductive in terms of recidivism. Diversion, socio-educational work-up and appropriate treatment in prison would be more successful. Mass checks on the net necessary It would make more sense in terms of prevention to try to get to the source and stop the acts and the dissemination of these depictions there. This requires mass checks on the network to stop the exchange of images. In the USA, for example, profiles of credit card transactions were created and the perpetrators were tracked down. In Europe, the authorities’ hands are tied in this respect because of data protection, said Kreissl, who did not want to demand that it be softened.