• CONFIDENTIAL written in stamped red letters

Publicity about the victims of crimes can in itself be traumatic to the victims, particularly for children who are generally sensitive about their reputations and are also less able to control or counteract information being disseminated about them.

 While juvenile victims of other juveniles are accorded privacy along with the perpetrator, victims of adult perpetrators are often not afforded the same anonymity. Indeed, abduction victims are almost always identified and media policies preserving the privacy of juvenile victims of other adult-committed crimes are far from universal. There has not, to date, been a study of the impact of publicity or anxiety about publicity on child victims. Nonetheless, there are reasons to believe that publicity or fear of publicity does cause harm.

  • Embarrassment and shame have been established as two sources of trauma for children in the wake of victimization. These emotions arise in part out of victims' concerns about the perceptions other people will have about them.
  • When more people know about a particularly painful event, it increases the number of potential sources of reminders about the trauma. For example, when a crime is publicized, there are more people who might mention the episode to the victim.

Therefore, while there has yet been no strong research conducted, there are reasons to believe, based on trauma theory and common intuition, that publicity my harm juvenile crime victims.

Source: Finkelhor, D. & Putnam, C. (2004). Protecting the privacy of child crime victims. APRI: Update, 17(2): 1-2.