- Tasmanian group told ABC word 'paedophile' could drive abusers underground
- It suggested other terms including 'sexual abuser of children and young people'
- ABC producer emailed staff with revised guidelines, angering some
The email sent by a senior producer told staff in the Tasmanian bureau to avoid the term paedophile even in cases where offenders had a long history of abusing children to avoid 'marginalising' anyone.
The justification used was advice from Tasmania's Sexual Assault Support Service (SASS), which told an ABC reporter that use of the word could stop abusers seeking treatment therefore making it more likely they'd continue offending.
The context for the advice from SASS was the death of alleged paedophile James Griffin, who committed suicide in October 2019 before he faced court on multiple child sex abuse charges, The Weekend Australian reported.
James 'Jim' Geoffrey Griffin, 69, spent almost three decades grooming and abusing his young victims, and worked at the Launceston General Hospital children's ward from 2001.
Griffin was finally charged with more than a dozen sexual offences against children as young as 11 in October last year.
Two weeks later Griffin died in hospital after taking a cocktail of dangerous drugs. A coroner found his suicide was motivated by the charges he was facing.
'We should avoid it, unless we know he had a clinical diagnosis of paedophilia and instead use "serial sexual offender", "predator", or a "sexual abuser of children and young people",' the email read.
It went on to say: 'SASS says another consideration is from their point of view, there are a lot of paedophiles / people with paedophilia who do not act on those impulses, especially if they reach out for and receive professional psychological help.
'Describing (perhaps technically inaccurately) Griffin as a paedophile could discourage those people from seeking help, making it more likely that they go on to abuse children.'
Reporting of child sex abuses is common and many would argue, important.
In October 2020, police launched Operation Arkstone, rescuing 46 Australian children - including 16 from a child care centre - in one of the biggest alleged child sex abuse cases in the country's history.
Some ABC staff were believed to be angered that the support group's views appeared to supersede accurate reporting and some also vowed to defy the guidelines.
ABC management denied there had been an official change in the use of language around reporting sexual abuse of minors to the publication.
'There has been no change to the ABC's usage of the term "paedophile" in reporting. It’s still used,' it told Daily Mail Australia in a statement.
'The intent of the note to some staff in Tasmania was to inform them about information from the Sexual Assault Support Service, as it’s always useful to understand the views of the services dealing closely with survivors.'
'The note should not have given the impression there has been any official change in language use, because there hasn't been.'
Daily Mail Australia has contacted several organisations that support children, sexual assault survivors and report sexual abuse for comment, as well as the ABC.