The Island’s politicians need to take a stronger line in enacting tougher legislation to combat the sexual exploitation of children, according to the charity Scars.

“I just think the system doesn’t work,” said Scars chairman Jon Brunson, calling for special court cases to try allegations of child sexual abuse.

“This will sound controversial, but the political will to make is very slow. We can pass laws to accommodate the America’s Cup but we can’t pass laws to make training in spotting child abuse mandatory for all teachers. I don’t get it.”

Legislators agreed in November to set up a joint select committee to look at present laws for convicted sex offenders, particularly the creation of a public sex offenders registry, but nothing has emerged since.

“I support a public sex offenders list, but it is not a silver bullet given that 88 per cent of the time the crime goes unreported,” Mr Brunson said.

“There are perpetrators out there who have never been convicted. Reference checks and background checks are important for knowing who the convicted are. It’s the ones you don’t know that are the risk.”

Debi Ray-Rivers, the executive director of Scars, conceded that the creation of a registry would require great care, and that thorough rehabilitation was required during incarceration.

“The most important thing is what we’re doing with them before they get out — the treatment they’re given, holding them accountable so that they don’t reoffend,” she said. “They need support along with being held accountable. It’s compulsive behaviour — all of this starts in the mind and it starts with thoughts that might not ever be acted upon.”

She added: “We need to understand that this affects all of us. Children need to understand that it’s not their fault. They’ve done nothing wrong and they need to use their voices. Instead of asking them what’s wrong, we need to ask ‘What happened to you?’”

By Jonathan Bell The Royal Gazette