Over the weekend reports emerged of comments made by the Queensland Attorney General Jarrod Bleije that the Queensland government was considering ‘naming and shaming’ repeat juvenile offenders. Our local paper took up this issue on Monday 16 July with an article based around the opinion of a father whose son was a victim of a child offender who was named under the current provisions of the Youth Justice Act 1992 (Qld). 
Limitations have been imposed on naming child offenders as a result of Australia’s international obligation to respect a child offender’s privacy at all stages of proceedings and to take into account the desirability of promoting the child’s reintegration in society. Specifically, ‘[i]n principle, no information that may lead to the identification of a juvenile offender shall be published.’ These rules were developed on the basis of criminological research that revealed that labelling children produces detrimental effects. A 2008 report by the NSW Legislative Council Standing Committee on Law and Justice accepted the evidence in this regard, noting that the stigmatisation may ‘potentially lead to increased recidivism’. Following this report the prohibition on the naming of juvenile offenders in that State was maintained.
We encourage the Queensland Government to act only on the basis of sound research.
It has been reported that Attorney-General Bleije was ‘not afraid for Queenslandto stand alone on the issue.’ But Queensland would not be the first to have expanded powers to name young offenders. The Northern Territory already has such provisions in the Youth Justice Act 2005(NT). Research relating to that legislation, conducted by Robyn Lincoln and Duncan Chappell found that:-
* Naming is detrimental to the young person. It may result in harassment and/or disruption to their educational prospects;and
* Identification of young people in that jurisdiction translated to reporting in the media in a haphazard manner. 
Specific deterrence of offenders is partly achieved by adequate rehabilitation. Measures that impede positive reintegration into the community act adversely to that purpose. Further, effective general deterrence is reliant upon consistent and adequate media reporting, not evident in the case of the Northern Territory.
Secondly, it has been reported that Attorney-General Bleije noted that the current youth justice strategy was defective, citing statistics that ‘more than 30 per cent of young people in detention centres were repeat offenders.’ Presenting this information suggests that the Attorney-General believes that naming repeat offenders will result in a different outcome, presumably reduced offending and lower numbers of children in detention. A similar line of argument was presented to the New South Wales Standing Committee. In response the Committee stated that it did ‘not accept that juvenile recidivism can be directly linked to the section 11 prohibition on naming children involved in criminal proceedings. There is a wide range of factors contributing to juvenile recidivism rates and the Committee is not aware of any research that indicates not publicly naming juvenile offenders is one of those factors.’
Thirdly, naming youthful offenders can be harmful for victims of crime as well. While there is a lack of empirical evidence on this point there is some anecdotal evidence to suggest that the continual rehashing and naming of individuals can impact on the victims of crime, especially in small communities or among indigenous groups where families are known to one another.
Fourthly, where there is the capacity to name there is also the capacity to seek suppression orders or argue against naming and this can delay proceedings and result in greater expense to the community.
Finally, in some instances it may be argued that the expense and negative effects of naming are appropriate in the public interest. However, it must be remembered that Queensland judges already have the discretion in the interests of justice to name children charged with life offences that involve violence against a person that are particularly heinous.
Assistant Professors Jodie O’Leary and Robyn Lincoln, Bond University