Photos of Child Caught Stealing Posted on Facebook Sparked Hot Debate

It’s okay to try to embarrass a crook by posting his or her picture while engaged in the act of stealing a tip jar from a restaurant. But it might not be the best idea if the thief is a minor.

This is exactly what the management of Montezuma Restaurant at Bundaberg learned after it posted two photos on Facebook of a small boy who was recorded by the store’s CCTV stealing the tip jar on the counter. The photos were posted at 3.30pm on Sunday but were later taken down after they sparked a hot, online debate.

Although the more than 100 comments posted were mostly in favor of the restaurant’s actions, the restaurant owners are treading on thin ice on this issue since the subject is clearly a minor. What is clear in the Juvenile Justice Act is that minors should be treated differently, meaning with more leniency, than adult offenders. And that includes identifying and shaming them in public.

This is obviously a case of the offended party just trying to find out the identity of the suspect by doing what it thought to be the easiest way. But things immediately went beyond that because of the age of the offender. Now, people are wondering if the one responsible for posting the pictures are violating the Juvenile Justice Act by engaging in “trial by Facebook.”

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