Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Who Does Pedophilia Affect?

A rather gut-wrenching follow-up about Jared Fogle broke last night, and he was charged and expected to plead guilty to sex with a minor and "child pornography production/distribution", which should be called child sexual exploitation material, but our nation likes to minimize sexually abusive images by calling them pornography. It would not have surprised me, when we first learned that Fogle's associate was arrested and charged with production/distribution, that Fogle would be a casualty to the "child pornography" laws, which state that if you have sex abuse images in your possession, intentionally or not, you can be charged.

Now we find out a very different story. For the record, an interfering attraction to teenagers between 11 and 14 is hebephilia, not pedophilia, and an interfering attraction to 14-19 aged teens is ephebophilia. All three are a type of paraphilia. So Fogle may have hebephilia and ephebophilia, not pedophilia. Paraphilia is as indiscriminate as any other sexual preference: It can affect anyone from any walk of life. Those who have it, do not choose it and what causes the preference is largely a mystery. Someone can have the attraction but not the disorder if they do not find it interfering or distressing, but that determination is done by psychologists.

CNN did a follow-up with a woman claiming that she recorded Fogle and gathered evidence for the FBI. This makes me sick for several reasons: First, the FBI knew he had inclinations towards children and did nothing. Second, she knew he had inclinations towards children and did nothing to expose him. Third, Fogle could have gotten help if it was made available to him. None of that happened, which leads me back to my conclusion that we must both help and make it okay to receive help for paraphilias. It also leads me to the conclusion that the FBI would rather detain a criminal than preventing sex abuse victims.

One of the biggest tragedies in America is that real pedophiles- or paraphiles, if you prefer- are unknown and have a lot of mystery surrounding them, and sex offenders are viewed the same as pedophiles. They are all lumped together as perverts, deviants, or monsters in the minds of most people. So to most people, there is no distinction between someone who has offended, and is attracted to minors, and someone who has not offended, and is attracted to minors.

We have seen through numerous "child pornography" stings that anyone, from any walk of life, can abuse a child, either directly (contact) or indirectly (images). We know from research and common sense that anyone, from any walk of life can have a sexual attraction to children (or their same sex, or teenagers). I do not believe I need a reference to make that statement. Look up some news, or the articles I linked. It is fairly common knowledge (the fact that Jared Fogle, a basically average guy, should be evidence enough). In the United States, there are many people locked up in civil commitment programs, and the common understanding is that they are there because of their actions, even though that action is lumped together with whatever psychological disorders they might have.

It is my conclusion, based on the overwhelming reports of those with the disorder, that people are aware of these paraphilias when they are in their teenage years. Therefore, providing resources and possible interventions to all high schoolers or middle schoolers, would be an effective course of action in preventing those with paraphilia from offending. This could eliminate up to 33% of child sexual abuse. Obviously most pedophiles do not offend as it is, and most child molesters are not pedophiles. However, destigmatizing the disorder would help end the epidemic of child sexual exploitation/abuse/sexual abuse material by taking a significant chunk out of the epidemic.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

What If? If I could change my past to not offend...

One thing I have done my best to avoid doing is asking myself the big 'what if'. What if my college had given me the right support? What if I had gotten help before I hurt a child? What if help was readily available? What if the same Google search I did then, 'Help for pedophiles/pedophilia', turned up the same useful results the same search does now? 

I have avoided questions like this intentionally, because I am the type of person who can easily go down rabbit trails and worry about things I have zero control over. My driving is an excellent example of that. Throughout treatment, it was readily apparent that asking those types of questions would sideline what I was focusing on: Not what could have happened or might have been, but what did happen. Now that treatment is complete, I think it would be helpful to answer those questions.

Knowing myself as I do, I wanted to work with children. Working with children was the one thing I felt I could do well, besides writing, but I did not feel that I had enough creativity to make my writing do anything for me. It helped me immensely to know that my attraction was not all bad. It could be harnessed to help people. I am also not saying that my situation generalizes. But I think it is worth sharing. 

I had numerous examples of situations where I genuinely helped children, free from guilt and the stain of being sexually attracted. When I was in college, I spent some time with a visitor of a child I knew and had spent time with. The visitor and the kid I knew kept arguing, and knowing the kid, I knew it was something with the visitor. Through talking with him, I learned that he did not appreciate his life and wanted to die, and I helped him to see his situation differently by sharing parts of my own situation- my parents' divorce, my stepfather's alcoholism and emotional abuse, being bullied. Seeing him turn around from depression to being a happy, normal 10-year-old was one of the best moments of my life. That was just one situation.

So hearing from my college that I should not work with children, I was dangerous, and I had to stop working with children rocked my world and terrified me. That is not what I needed to hear. I viewed myself as safe, because of the way I viewed abuse: Anyone I was attracted to would tell, and anyone young enough that they would not tell was too young to be attractive. I dismissed, through this viewpoint, that I could get away with anything, and therefore could not act for fear of the consequences. So hearing that I was dangerous and should not be around children shattered that viewpoint, and also made me more at risk, not less. Self-fulfilling prophecy, even if you know how it works, still works all the same. Being told you might hurt someone when you do not think you will has a huge effect. 

Also, there were numerous positives to working with children for me: People knew me and liked me, not because of what I did, but how I did it and who I was. I was accepted. This broke the view that I was somehow deficient because I had attraction to children. It did not even allow a foothold for a belief about how monstrous I was for being attracted to children. It made me feel like that attraction did not matter, I mattered. That was all I needed, to belong. And then, when I realized my attraction was not normal, and told someone about my attraction, that shattered. That professor viewed me as a safety risk to children. Even having Asperger's, I could read his reaction and disgust and hear his disdain every time we talked about the attraction and how I was managing it- like he was some kind of expert on what I needed. He did not even know how to work with Asperger's, nevermind pedophilia.

If I had been told something different, I could have still maintained the positive views I had of working with children, gotten help to manage things, build a positive support system that knew and could help me figure out what I needed to stay safe. If I had heard something like, 'We think this is a big deal for you, and that you should focus on making it less of a big deal,' it would have made the reality of needing to stop being around children easier to understand and agree with. Instead of hearing, 'You are a danger to children' I would have heard, 'You are not taking care of yourself, so you cannot be effective in helping others'. It still would have stung, but it would not have been earth-shattering. It would have been an opportunity for growth and support. How it was framed scared me away from help, even before I was told that treatment would mean being a sex offender and that the psychosexual evaluation cost $1500 and was not covered by insurance. Of course I ran away from their "help".

Knowing that you have an attraction that people hate and do not understand is not good knowledge to have. Even if the beliefs are not realistic, you want to form beliefs to counter this hatred. I did not choose to be attracted to children. I did choose to let that attraction grow and get out of hand. It is no coincidence that I began viewing sexual abuse material around the time the college 'intervened' by ordering me around. I was depressed, overwhelmed, and terrified. I turned to the pornography to run away from how I was feeling, at the same time I did my best to shut off my emotions, at the same time the pornography was something that allowed me to feel. 

Fast forwarding, one of the biggest things that gave me hope after I was arrested was being able to talk with someone from the Center for Sexual Health about their program, and asking them basic questions: Is it possible to live a normal life? Is it possible to be safe around children? Essentially, I was asking if there was hope to manage the attractions- and every single one of her answers was yes, there is hope. That was when I started believing in myself again. Hearing the judge, my probation officer, and my public defender all say I did everything I could to prevent the abuse with what I knew, and that I had a fair shot at turning everything around for the better, and getting that chance was amazing. That was when I knew I could do it. I had not even started treatment yet. I had five years of probation to look at, and however long treatment would take. But I knew I could do it, because experts in sex offenders told me I could.

I had someone ask me the question, 'What would have had to be different in order for you to not offend?' I think for me, that boils down to what I believed about myself and the right people speaking into my life to tell me the truth about having pedophilic disorder, and help me accept and understand my Asperger's. That is why I share about working with children being so important. It was not the working with children, of itself, that was valuable to me. It was how it made me feel and counteracted the negative self-talk and beliefs about myself. Viewing myself as a monster because I had a sexual attraction I could not change, it was helpful to be around people who reinforced the idea that I was a good person.

When I look back at everything, all of the knowledge I have about what I did, my choices, those that influenced me, and where I was at, I come to the conclusion that I did not have the right support in place, nor did I really have any support in place. I did not have people to talk with about the attraction, because I did not feel safe discussing it- contrast that to having 6 different close friends who are okay discussing it and are positive influences. I did not have a therapist that understood anything about pedophilia. I had no resources, no knowledge, and no real friends. Instead, I had secrets, negative self-esteem, negative beliefs, and a resistance to accepting that I had Asperger's. Ironically, it was my victim and his family that led me to not only accept my Asperger's, but embrace it. I am glad for their influence, because without it, treatment would have been much harder. 


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Arguments for Childhood Sexual Encounters

Introduction

I ran across an article today with a very interesting comment from a "Vernon D". Here, I will address the single response to that article. It is the response, more than the article, that has me appalled. The response links to a journal article on www.shfri.net. Once you enter the site, you are taken to a site titled 'SafeHaven Foundation' and a splash screen citing the need and presence of academic freedom in the UN and US Constitution. One of the links of the main site is their 'philosophy of responsible boylove'. You can read it for yourself, but essentially their philosophy is that a relationship between a boy and older male is acceptable provided that the boy is calling the shots and is a bond of friendship.



So, about that "journal article" they posit as scientific... It strikes me that my perspective might be helpful on this sort of topic, given that I did molest a child and I did, at one time, believe that sex between an adult and child would be okay in the 'right' circumstances, eerily akin to the above philosophy.


Issues With Claims To Be Scientific


One of the main issues with the response is that it claims, and I quote, "For more discussion of "pedophilia" in a scientific journal, go to http://www.shfri.net/ppp/ppp.cgi" Also, "Addressing the broader issues beyond the allegations in this news report, it should be noted that scientific studies based on legitimate empirical evidence..." The biggest issue with the article is that they claim it to be scientific, but it is not published in a peer-reviewed journal with any sort of academic credibility. It is published in a forum for sharing logical ideas across multiple disciplines. If they are making claims to have empirical and scientific proof, then their article must cite academic sources properly and be reviewed by psychologists in the field. The article itself is framed as a logical argument, not as a peer-reviewed study. As such, it cannot be considered scientific or empirical. 


Main Points

The article essentially claims that the factual basis for trauma and victimology, as it calls it, of children following sexual encounters with adults is lacking. In other words, the trauma that children feel from sexual encounters is based not on fact- the child's feeling- but on society's beliefs regarding such encounters. The argument is that in many cases, minors have sought out sexual gratification from adults. There are numerous news articles of minors lying about their age, and the duped older person ends up on a sex offender registry. So the cases do exist.


However, the article fails to examine why those children seek out those encounters. I would argue that they have undergone other traumatic experiences, such as emotional abuse, bullying, sexual abuse, etc, and are expressing themselves to get attention in the only way they know how: By acting in a way they think is outrageous. It is a mechanism of childhood we are all familiar with. The experts who work with children have varying suggestions of how to meet the needs of these children, but never will you find an expert on children saying that it is a good idea for these children to express themselves sexually with adults to explore and satisfy their physical desires and natural curiosity.


Certainly, there are established cases where there were sexual acts between an adult and a child, and the child was not harmed. There are likewise many more cases where the same happens and the child was harmed. There are also cases where the sexual acts happen and the child's experience with police and parents are more harmful than the act itself. Many people overreact, insult the perpetrator, etc, and the child ends up more confused, more disturbed, and more harmed because the reaction to the situation was not helpful. Within this field, that is recognized fact that all of those cases exist.


Issues Of Trust And Bias


However, an adult cannot interact with a child without the child trusting the adult simply because they are an adult. Therefore, any sexual encounter will involve grooming (I have said before grooming can be voluntary or involuntary), and therefore coercion and bias. There is no way for a child to seek out a sexual encounter without the same sort of belief-interference that they are claiming is responsible for the feeling of trauma. Children would not naturally seek out sex with adults unless an adult is leading them that direction, or there is something else going on. In other words, it is very uncommon. It is also preposterous to think that the children that will not be harmed will somehow, miraculously be paired with adults who accept these boy love philosophies. It is similarly preposterous to think that anyone can identify what children will or will not be harmed by it. There is no crystal ball there. The logic does not add up.


That is what the article is arguing: The same premise of their philosophy, that boy love (older individuals having what most, including myself, consider an inappropriate relationship with young boys) is a safe and natural part of growing up. My experience with that kind of argument is that it is blatantly and obviously self-serving. It is obviously biased for a group of people with attraction towards children, particularly boys, to be arguing that sexual acts with boys is okay if the boys want it and the act is about love. I daresay the authors of the site, and of the articles, have no way of proving they have no self-interest in making the claims they do.


Conclusion


It is natural for a child to seek out curiosity-indulging experiences involving sex with other children. This is extremely common. In the vast majority of these cases involving peers, there is no harm done. It is also natural with an older child, if they have access to younger children, to experiment in a similar way, though many of these cases involve harm to the younger child (a third of child sexual abuse cases involve juvenile perpetrators). Those result in a bit more harm, because of the lack of equality. It is still mostly benign. However, when an adult enters the picture, the lack of equality becomes pronounced enough that there is no way for a child in most cases to be making relationally-oriented decisions without some sort of leading on the adult's part.


At minimum, childhood sexual encounters with adults have a very high risk of harm, not only because of the potential time lapse in the event and the harm being recognized as such, not only because of the genuine, un-interfered with feelings of the child both during and after, but because so much literature shows us the self-described feelings of the child, as a child, as an adult, etc. In victim's own words it is harmful, and those statements are made both with and without the sort of reaction cited by the article.


And because of that, their arguments fall on deaf ears to those capable of thinking logically and rationally. There is a reason most of society views sexual interactions between children and adults as taboo. Using big words and fancy writing to argue otherwise does not convince anyone capable of using logic to assess all of the facts and all of the arguments. Like it or not, they have the freedom of speech to say whatever they wish. In that much, they are correct. But it is still illegal, and for a very good reason.


I went into reading this journal article with a great deal of hesitation. There were a large number of red flags: Would I question all I have learned in treatment because of it? Would it argue me away from believing that my actions were wrong? Would it change anything? Having read it and processed it, all I feel is disgust and sadness that people can write such preposterous things and dress it up as logic. The only good thing that came from reading it is affirming just how crazy, illogical, sad, and desperate it is to believe that a sexual act with a child could be a good thing. I have been there. I would not wish that kind of twisted belief on anyone.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Sex Abuse Prevention Presentation

I recently read an article covering a workshop given by Ellen White, a 'child protection specialist' with the YMCA. In short, they wanted to give parents and educators an idea of what signs to look for, how to treat children, and cover some statistics of sex abuse.

Some Statistics


Their stated goal: "to educate more parents on the signs — the red flags, how do predators act — so that you know, ‘should I be paying more attention to this particular person?’” They then go on to describe accurate statistics: 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are abused by the time they are 18 years old, 90% of abuse happens at the hands of people known to the child and family, and 90% of children who are abused will not tell anyone. Those are great statistics to cite.


Predator Stereotypes


However, the article then goes on to stereotype what a predator looks like. They paint the picture of someone who intentionally gains the community's trust, the parent's trust, and then and only then forms the bond with a child to abuse them. Direct from the article: "White said what child sexual predators do is groom the community. They find the right jobs and the right places to integrate themselves into the community as a trusted member and gain access to children. Then they groom the parents, earning their trust, before moving onto children. That way, the child is already trained to think to trust the predator because they’ve seen their parents trust them."


Grooming


They describe this as an intentional process. My own offending was not an intentional process, in fact, I tried to prevent it. I was not even aware of grooming my victim or his family. They describe coercion being used. I was not aware of coercing my victim. I realize my offending was not the end-all example of what child abuse looks like. I recognize that my experiences are my own and do not generalize. However, to paint every single abuser into this mold is unhelpful and only instills more fear and stigma into the community. It does not solve anything. While the process of grooming might be observable, it is not intentional or easy to spot.


Prevention? Or Reaction?


The most disgusting thing about the article is that they talk about how to treat children, and how to tell when children are being abused or intervene if they suspect someone is grooming their child. I find it disgusting because none of this actually prevents child abuse from happening, unless of course it is already happening. By then it is too late. Not too late to prevent more abuse, but too late to have prevented it in the first place. I do not believe that fits the definition of prevention. Prevention to me means it does not happen, period, because of some kind of intervention.


Educating Children?


The article also discusses talking with children about speaking up. I disagree with this to the highest degree. I am familiar with a program called Erin's Law, which essentially advocates that children need to be taught to speak up if they are being abused and report it. Essentially, it is akin to bullying prevention programs that teach children to stand up for themselves. Imagine that you are taught that. Now imagine that someone did something to you unspeakably humiliating, and simply asks you not to tell. Can you imagine how confusing that would be for you? To put that kind of responsibility on a child is disgusting, because it essentially expects children to stop abuse. That is an adult's job, not a child's.


Do not misunderstand me: I am completely in agreement that children should not be abused. I am not saying that intervention after the fact is worthless. I am saying that intervention after the fact is not prevention. White correctly points out that children should be able to make and keep boundaries, especially around affection like hugs and physical contact and not be forced to hug aunt Betty or uncle Bob if they do not want to. Those are valuable things. They will not stop an abuser, but they are still valuable in building up self-esteem and teaching good mental health.


However, until we grasp just how big an issue sex abuse is- remember those statistics? Combined, about 21% of children are abused by the time they are an adult. Less than 10% of children being abused report that abuse. Educating children to increase that reporting will not have much of an effect. Putting the burden on children to stop abuse- to know what abuse is and who to tell- is placing even more humiliation and shame than the abuser has already instilled them with. It is harmful, not helpful.


Lack Of Adult Support


The biggest reason people (yes, people, human beings) sexually abuse children is that they do not have support, lack adequate mental health help, other psychological reasons. Research has shown that GLBTQ youth are struggling because of the way they are treated and viewed, and are more likely to be depressed and act out with drugs, sexual promiscuity, and even violence. The same effect happens to pedophiles because of the views on sex offenders. Pedophiles are not responsible for most child sexual abuse, yet are treated as if they are. They are viewed as ticking time bombs. That can easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy.


I argue that, instead of offering public workshops on how to talk with children, or workshops to scare parents, we should be offering public workshops on how to have good mental health. We should be teaching people, no matter what they struggle with, that they are not alone and that they can have good mental health. It is an adult's responsibility to stop child sexual abuse, and the only way it can be prevented before it happens is by access to mental health resources and support groups. When people have adults they can talk with for support, they will not abuse children, sexually or otherwise.


A Word About Juvenile Abusers


Juvenile abusers make up about a third of child sexual abuse cases. Off the top of my head, most of these cases are the result of the juvenile having been abused and essentially acting out their own abuse on younger children. They are not insignificant, but it is an area I am fairly unfamiliar with.





Thursday, August 6, 2015

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions, Myths, and Stereotypes

It is difficult for me to start something like a FAQ, but I will attempt to answer questions people might have about sex abuse, abusers, pedophiles, and the justice system. I confess that I am readily borrowing from Stop It Now and Virtuous Pedophiles for some of these topics, and forming my own answers based on my experiences and knowledge.
  1. What is pedophilia?
    • Pedophilia is the condition of being attracted to prepubescent children. In some cases, it is a disorder. Pedophile is a term misused by many news sources and popular culture to refer to people who abuse children. However, a pedophile is simply someone with pedophilia. Pedophiles usually deal with a number of mental health issues like depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts because of the stigma involved in their disorder. Most pedophiles do not abuse children, and many who abuse children are not pedophiles. Best guesses indicate that about 1-2% of all men deal with pedophilia on some level. Compared to known statistics of abuse, there are more non-offending pedophiles than there are offending pedophiles. It is difficult to ballpark these figures because of the stigma and secrecy involved.
  2. What is sexual abuse?
    • This is a very basic question, but a good one. Sexual abuse is anything that is sexual in nature and harmful or traumatic to a child done by someone at least a few years older than the child. This is not limited to touch or penetration, it can also include exposure and sexual conversations with children. If the same happens among adults, it is usually considered harassment or assault, but it is abuse just the same. 
  3. Don't all offenders reoffend and continue abusing children?
    • The short answer is no. The criminal justice system indicates that anywhere from 3-36% of offenders reoffend, and the majority of those offenses are nonsexual, such as not keeping up with their sex offender registration, violating probation or parole requirements, etc. Multiple sources have varying figures, but it is more common for other types of criminals to offend than it is for sexual offenders. On average, the sexual recidivism rate of sex offenders is around 11.5-13%.
  4. Is the attraction to children a choice?
    • The short answer is no. In the same manner that same-sex attractions or gender identity questions are not voluntary, attraction to children is something that can be described as an affliction or a sexual orientation (see next question). Like any affliction, those with it have a choice on what to do about it, in thought and action. Few seek help because of the stigma. Criticizing those with such attractions is just as unhelpful as saying someone with depression should just snap out of it. 
  5. Is pedophilia curable? 
    • No. No one can make an attraction to children go away, medically or therapeutically. Pedophilia is only correlated with child sexual abuse in around 30% of cases, so there is evidence that most people with pedophilia can manage it without hurting a child. 
  6. What about child pornography? 
    • There is a common belief that "child pornography" is less harmful than child abuse, or that viewing it is. However, I vehemently disagree with this belief. Think of your most embarrassing moment. Now imagine someone taped it and posted it on the internet, and that people not only view it, they enjoy viewing it. That is what a victim of child pornography goes through, in addition to the initial abuse, and those that view it participate in their victimization, and in the victimization of others because they create a demand for it. In order for "child pornography" to be in existence, a child must be abused and filmed. Whether one is the producer or the viewer does not matter to my mind. Creating the demand creates the product just as much as the person holding the camera. Children are abused in the creation of such imagery, even if they are forced to appear that they enjoy it.
  7. Isn't there pornography involving children that's drawn? Wouldn't it be better for pedophiles to view that so they do not abuse children?
    • Yes, there is drawn or 'virtual' pornography that is available on the internet. In some cases, 3D rendering is used, in others they take on a comic-book form. The legalities of these art forms are hazy depending on location. Such media can be helpful to exclusive pedophiles, but it is fair to say that such methods should be used with a therapist's guidance to assure objectivity and an actual benefit. There are some that would not benefit from viewing drawn material depicting children, and negative beliefs may form from viewing it. For some, the line between fantasy and reality can get blurred.
  8. How does sex offender registration work?
    • When one is convicted (not accused, convicted) of a sex crime, they are required to register their name, residence, vehicles, student status, pictures, fingerprints, and DNA with law enforcement. Some places require internet usernames, social media accounts, etc and have other restrictions besides. In most first convictions, like mine, they are assigned a level, which is to indicate the level of risk the offender poses. Most offenders, unless their evaluation (or charges, depending on the state) indicates a higher risk, start at level 1, which means that they are only 'visible' to law enforcement. They are not on community lists, and no one besides law enforcement is informed of their movements. Different states have different requirements for length of registration, but federal minimum starts at ten years. Multiple offenses, multiple victims, risk assessments, and other factors can lead to public notification, which is what most know as the sex offender registry. Different states handle registration differently. There is no set standard that every state or country follows.
  9. What sort of requirements are there for probation?
    • That is a difficult question to answer, because many counties vary in the restrictions given to sex offenders. In my case, any internet accessible device is monitored, and I must agree to a computer use document and be polygraphed for compliance. I cannot view pornography (yes, adult pornography). I cannot have contact- direct communication, indirect communication- with children, unless it happens in the course of my job. In the same manner, I cannot have contact with my victim or his relatives. I cannot vote or own a firearm- BB gun, airsoft gun, or gun. I know some offenders who must notify their employer of their SO status and cannot use computers at all. I cannot address parole, as I never went to prison. 
  10. What constitutes a sexual offense?
    • A sexual offense can be difficult to define in some cases. I have heard cases of teenagers dating, where one teen is several years younger, and they have consensual sex. By law, this can be a sexual offense. However, if no one is harmed or feels traumatized, it would not necessarily be considered a sex offense by therapists. The state would consider them an offender. Essentially, a sexual offense, as far as treatment professionals are concerned, is when one person's sexual behavior causes harm or trauma to someone else. The three huge factors are the law, those directly affected, and society. What matters most to answering this question is those directly affected: If they were traumatized, it is a sexual offense. 
  11. Don't sex offenders usually reoffend?
    • No, it is more common for them not to reoffend. Offenses like exhibitionism (exposing) turned up higher rearrest rates, while child pornography and molestation turned up lower rearrest rates, with more violent acts like rape being the median. It is interesting to note that more of the recidivism arrests were from other crimes, not sex crimes. Simply Googling 'Sex offender recidivism rates' will give you an idea of the difficulties involved in calculating reoffense rates. But in short, sex offenders have lower rates of recidivism than other criminals, and a Wikipedia article about sex offenders cited a 2002 study as saying 5.3% were rearrested for another sex crime. Generally, the longer an offender is crime-free, the less risk they present to the public.
  12. What is the purpose of this site?
    • This site began as sort of a journal, and a way for me to express my thoughts about how sex crimes can be prevented. In the early days, it was just me and my thoughts. More recently, I have been reading studies, other advocacy organizations, and take a more professional approach. The purpose of this site today can be found in its updated form in the mission statement.
  13. What can I do to help a victim of sexual abuse/assault?
    • Wait for them to say anything, and let them ask for what they need. The worst thing you can do is bring it up and ask how they are doing, unless they have already asked you to check in with them about it. At the same time, they need to know you understand, you care, and that they are not alone. The best thing you can do is work with a child advocacy center. Every situation is different, and you will have stereotypes about abuse/assault that can interfere with actually helping a victim. You can make the trauma worse by your reaction.
  14. What can I do to help a sex offender, or perpetrator of sexual abuse/assault?
    • Tell them that it will get better, there is help, and that they can live a normal life. Even if you do not believe that, they desperately need to hear it. They need to know that you care, and it will give them the hope they need to pursue the help they need. The issues and choices that led someone to harm another sexually are complex, and understanding them takes time and effort. I would wager that most offenders/perpetrators do not want to hurt people, and want to get help. The worst thing you can do is judge them and remind them of what they did. They do not need to hear it, unless they are making excuses for their actions or blaming the victim or others for their choices. If they are upset by what they did, they do not need any reminders about it.
  15. What can I do to help someone who has difficult fantasies and urges, like pedophilia or paraphilia?
    • The worst thing you can do is not ask how they are doing. Secrecy emotionally and with their thoughts is what steers someone struggling with their sexual feelings and thoughts towards acting them out. The more they are wrapped up in their head, the more desperate they feel. The best thing is to find someone who is familiar with abuse issues, such as ATSA or Stop It Now, and talk with a therapist. This blog has a resource for them as well. The more support you can give them, the better. They need to know that you care and that you want them to succeed. Think of all those movies where there is that touching friendship, where someone is there for someone, or where just spending time together means a lot. If someone dealing with pedophilia or a paraphilia has told you what they are dealing with, they need you to care and not judge. They do not need to hear that they are dangerous, they need to hear that they can get better and that you will stand by them. They will accept whatever realities come with regards to children's safety in their own time, and hearing it from someone else will not help them.
  16. How can you say that abuse must be prevented before it happens? How would we even spot a potential abuser?
    • My post about warning signs addresses this in more detail. First, there are always signs in someone with attraction to children that can be observed from the outside. I think it takes a great deal of compassion to approach someone showing these signs and honestly ask them if they need help with anything, or to explain what is being seen. Asking something like, "Help me understand... [this thing I observed]". Even if they are not dealing with attraction to children, they will probably appreciate seeing that you care enough about them to say something about something you do not understand. Currently, our method of prevention as a society is aimed at severe punishment so as to deter the crime. However, there are very few resources available to anyone considering abusing a child- or assaulting an adult. There is very little research available regarding these at-risk populations also, because of the stigma around the topic. Without that research, we cannot know how and where systemic primary prevention methods should be applied. What we do know is toted by organizations like the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse, and other professional and academic organizations like them.