In recent months, there have been several reported cases of inappropriate behaviour involving Singapore teachers, trainee teachers and private tutors. Based on the “porn scholar” case in which the UK courts found Singapore’s MOE scholar guilty of downloading hardcore child pornography but did not sentence him to jail (The New Paper, December 21, 2010; The Straits Times, December 22, 2010).
When the case, involving formal Ministry of Education (MOE) scholar – Jonathan Wong, was unveiled late last year, it created a public outcry. Why was it so? Did the public consider the case as an act of crime; or an act of deviance; or both? Using the concepts of victimless crimes and social norms and values, we shall discuss this in detail.
Victimless Crimes In Mclaughlin and Muncie (2006), victimless crime is defined as “a form of behavior that is illegal but is consensual in nature and lacks a complaining participant” (p. 451). It includes gambling, prostitution, and pornography in which participants in the exchange typically do not see themselves as being victimized, and thus, there are no complaining victims (Brinkerhoff, White, Ortega, & Weitz, 2008). Having said that, if the mere possession of child pornography is indeed “victimless”, why was Jonathan’s act being regarded as a crime?
According to Jenness (1993), apart from protecting specific perpetrators from their own behavior, statutes surrounding victimless crimes are aimed to protect society in general. The rationale behind the United Kingdom (UK) authority’s decision to regard the possession of child pornography equivalent to the making of child pornography is to protect children from being exploited or forced into the pornography industry. The UK authority is convinced that if there is no demand for child pornography, there will be no need to supply; and if there is no need to supply, no child will be exploited or forced into the pornography industry. Hence, as far as the UK...