General Question

nayeight's avatar

Do you believe that sex offenders can be rehabilitated?

Asked by nayeight (3337 points ) December 25th, 2009 from iPhone

An 11 year old girl went missing a few days ago in the town I live in and they just found her body today. The man who they suspect did it was her guardian’s ex-boyfriend and was registered as a high risk sex offender. I don’t really know the girl and while it is very tragic that it happened, I was getting a little sick of reading tons of facebook statuses regarding the matter. Most of the statuses were about how sad it was, or that the individual was praying for the girl and her family, or that she was now an angel up in heaven celebrating xmas with jesus, blah blah blah blah. Then, I came across a couple posts that were a little disturbing. Most of them were suggesting the man suspected of killing her should be stoned, castrated, strung up, burned alive….really crazy stuff. Now I’m all about people getting what they deserve but that’s a little ridculous. Anywho… someone was talking about how the system failed this child because “everyone knows that sex offenders can’t be rehabilitated”. I always thought that there was some hope that some of them could be. What are your thoughts? How do you feel about the laws towards this matter in effect today or the system? Do you think they can be rehabilitated? Why or why not?

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111 Answers

rooeytoo's avatar

I don’t know the statistics so I can’t make a judgement. I think it is fair to say that when a so called rehabilitated sex offender reoffends, it makes big news. When one is successful in not reoffending, that is not news and is not reported.

I hate to say it but it is a fact, I would prefer not to have one living in my neighborhood. I don’t like to think of my family as being the guinea pigs who prove whether this guy is one of the successful ones or not.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I think there are a range of conditions like with anything – and some can be rehabilitated or at the very least learn to control their urges.

Blondesjon's avatar

The man who did that to her should be put down. Pedophilia is a genetic defect that needs to be removed from the gene pool.

Kelly_Obrien's avatar

You said, “The man who they suspect did it was her guardian’s ex-boyfriend and was registered as a high risk sex offender.”

So they don’t know for sure this man did it? Aren’t you jumping the gun here?

holden's avatar

I don’t know. I don’t know. Actually, I have struggled with this question myself, regarding my fiance’s father. I would like to be able to believe that they can be rehabilitated, but I just don’t know.

john65pennington's avatar

Sex offenders cannot be rehabilitated. they have a gene, just like alcoholics, that constantly eats at their psyche for more and more and more.

dpworkin's avatar

It depends upon where in the spectrum of sexual offenses their acts fall. Non-violent offenders (flashers, peepers) can sometimes be assisted with an early-enough intervention. Serial child molesters are almost certain to reoffend at the first opportunity, and sexual sadists who also murder will wait as long as necessary in prison, and reoffend as soon as they are released.

Jewel's avatar

I don’t know, but I suspect it is rather like being hetero or homosexual. It is a sexual preference, and I think that you cannot cure someone of this.

holden's avatar

I think it’s important to remember that a pedophile is not necessarily a child molester, the difference being that a child molester chooses to act upon his/her “sexual preferences” and the pedophile not necessarily so.

dpworkin's avatar

@holden That’s why I was careful to say “serial child molesters”.

nayeight's avatar

@KellyOBrien How did I jump the gun? I said he was a suspect. I did not say that he did it, I said he is the man they SUSPECT did it.

galileogirl's avatar

Over time 37% of rapists and 52% of pedophiles are convicted of new offenses and we know that less tha 25% of these criminals are convicted, about 80% will be lifelong repeat offenders

http://www.csom.org/pubs/recidsexof.html

A certain group can be managed with close monitoring . regular psychological attention, and drugs but the effectiveness is never certan for an individual.

HumourMe's avatar

I was going to write a detailed paragraph on what I think about this issue. But I found myself somewhat changing my opinions as I went along. The truth is it’s not an easy issue to deal with, there are so many different aspects to it both morally and lawfully.

It’s hard to draw the line between the offender suffering a mental illness in need of help and just a human being doing terrible things who deserves to be punished. It’s a subject that will continue to plague society for the rest of the future, with no simple solution.

galileogirl's avatar

@HumourMe Almost everyone who commits a crime has a mental defect whether they kill or shoplift. We all know from childhood what is acceptable or unacceptable Well over 99% of criminals know right from wrong but still commit the crime. That is their psychlogical “kink” but we don’t accept it as mitigation/

ragingloli's avatar

@galileogirl
I should mention that these figures do not differentiate between treated and untreated offenders. The page you cited also shows that there is a substantial decrease in relapse occurance when the offenders were treated, so this shows that sex offenders can be rehabilitated. The question one should ask when looking at recidivism rates is ”How many of those were actually treated?

HumourMe's avatar

@galileogirl I guess the issue is, is it right to punish someone for their mental defect, seeing as they were born with it and didn’t ask to be the way they are? It draws in a lot of philosophical issues as well.

rooeytoo's avatar

The other question to ask is how do you tell who falls into which catagory before some 11 year old becomes the proof of the pudding.

dpworkin's avatar

We shoot rabid dogs when it’s not their fault that they are rabid, but first we have to protect the community.

HumourMe's avatar

@rooeytoo Exactly and it’s about working out who these people are and treating them before they offend.

ragingloli's avatar

@Blondesjon
So your Final Solution to the sex offender question is killing them?
That is great, we can solve the overpopulation problem then, because we could exterminate ⅓rd of the human population.

HumourMe's avatar

@ragingloli I don’t think we want another mass Genocide on our hands. If history has taught us anything it’s to learn from our mistakes.

Buttonstc's avatar

Yes, there are some who can suppress the urge to act upon these urges again, but they have to be highly motivated.

That’s just not the case for the majority of them.

I wish they could be isolated on an island somewhere without access to the rest of society. And any woman dimwitted enough to want to date them can go out to the island to visit there and keep her children safe from danger.

If this man was a CONVICTED offender, ( which is not that difficult to find out about) why was this woman bringing this guy into contact with her children ?

In a different thread yesterday, phillis mentioned that she frequently checks the sex offender registry to find out the ones in her neighborhood who could be a potential danger to her children. Somehow, I cannot envision her being dimwitted enough to date one of these guys, can you?

How desperate do you have to be to be scraping the bottom of THAT gene pool ?

Just because some of these guys are born with this predisposition (and I still doubt that) doesn’t make me feel sorry enough to live next door to them or date them if I have children who could be preyed upon by them.

I’m pretty liberal in many areas and non judgemental about others life choices. But I’m not enough of a bleeding heart to ignore that danger.

There really is no way to know which of them have been rehabilitated and which have not as these sociopaths are skillful manipulators who know how to tell people what they want to hear.

I still cast my vote for a permanent trip to an island where they can prey upon each other and leave the rest of society in peace.

absalom's avatar

Of course they can be rehabilitated (if I must make generalizations).

People who say someone should be “castrated” or “burned alive” are imagining acts just as disturbing as the child molestation of which the man may (or may not) be guilty.

@Blondesjon

Are you serious? Pedophilia is a sexuality, not a defect.

dpworkin's avatar

We are at the very beginning of finding a protocol to treat Antisocial Personality Disorder which is almost always co-morbid with these dangerous paraphilias . I say that because I have seen a few preliminary papers by genetic psychologists who are starting to see some interesting correlations.

To me that means that there is hope that one day we will not be faced with the conundrum of what to do with these men when they have served their sentences but are still a clear and present danger to the community.

Buttonstc's avatar

Have they done any studies on the women who become involved with these guys despite having children to protect. I’m talking about those who date CONVICTED child predators since no one can be a mind reader.

For the life of me I can’t fathom why any Mother of young children would give these guys the time of day ?

It just boggles the mind. There are many cases like this. It’s not as if this is an isolated incident. It’s a pattern.

dpworkin's avatar

What we do know is that women whose children are abused, usually by a man not their biological father, had been abused in childhood themselves. I don’t know how to interpret that fact, but it is a fact, and it can be seen through several generations. At the child sexual abuse center where I volunteered we saw grandmothers, mother and granddaughters in a three-generation series of this type of abuse.

HumourMe's avatar

@Buttonstc Love is blind apparently, it stops you from thinking rationally most of the time and yes what @pdworkin said.

Buttonstc's avatar

@pd

Yeah, you’re right. Thanks for reminding me about that, the ongoing perpetuation of the cycle of abuse if treatment is not sought to break that chain.

I guess what sticks in my craw is that this guy was a proven sex offender. I know that women who have been abused in childhood have a subconscious magnetic attraction to guys who will abuse them.

I guess I was hoping that the mother instinct would avoid the same for their kids at least on a conscious level.

Blondesjon's avatar

@ragingloli & @absalom . . . If you like to mow your yard naked or you get a thrill out of whipping your junk out at the mall, that is one thing.

If you rape and/or kill a child you are a fucking monster and should be exterminated without prejudice.

Would you live in a house where you were pretty sure the gas lines had been taught to control their urge to leak like they were apt to do in the past?

dpworkin's avatar

Statistically speaking the most dangerous person in a woman’s life is her male consort. 50% of homicides of women over the age of 18 are committed by “Significant Others.”

Sexually abused children are abused by a family member or a non-biological father more than 85% of the time. The remaining 15% are “stranger” molestations.

cookieman's avatar

My wife was a probation officer for twelve years and specialized in domestic violence and sex offenders. She had a lot of pedophiles and child molesters.

Based on her experience I’m going with “no”. I agree with @Galileogirl’s and @pdworkin‘s assessments.

HumourMe's avatar

@ButtonstcI know that women who have been abused in childhood have a subconscious magnetic attraction to guys who will abuse them”.

I have never known any woman who has been abused to want to be with a man who abuses her. I only know of women who avoid these men at all costs. It seems strange to me that a woman who is abused in her childhood wants to be the victim but a man who is abused in his childhood wants to be the perpetrator? Is there any proof of this “subconscious magnetic attraction”?

nayeight's avatar

Actually, I don’t know if this matters but the girl lived with her Aunt and the guy was registered in Delaware as a sex offender but the girls family lives in Maryland.

dpworkin's avatar

@HumourMe There is no magnetic or magical attractor. Here is the way some people think the dynamic goes: Boys who are abused identify with their abuser. They would rather be the inflicter of abuse than the humiliated victim of abuse. That’s why abused children sometimes act out and sexually abuse their siblings.

Girls who are abused are made to feel valueless except for what they have to offer sexually, and tend to then dress and behave provocatively in order to get the only type of attention that they have hitherto interpreted as love.

Most men who are normatively sexual non-abusers are not necessarily attracted to this kind of provocation, at least for a mate, so the women tend to attract men with sexual problems and anger problems resulting from their prior abuse, It is a vicious circle.

HumourMe's avatar

@pdworkin That’s much of what I was thinking too. It can happen the other way around as well, although not nearly as often.

absalom's avatar

@Blondesjon

Unfortunately you seem to be committing the same error so many do by conflating the term pedophile with child molester. They are simply not the same thing. Pedophilia is a sexuality. Child molestation is a crime.

(Sorry if you thought I was defending child molesters.)

Edit: And, in a strange coincidence, I live in such a house as you describe.

Buttonstc's avatar

@HM

I probably didn’t pick the best way to express it and I certainly didn’t mean to imply anything magical at all.

But there are disproportianately high numbers of women who have been abused as children who end up repeating the exact same pattern into their adult relationships. If it truly were all based upon conscious decision making, you would rightly expect it to be the reverse. But it isn’t. So why is that?

Perhaps the phrase “magnetic
attraction” is not the best choice to describe it but it does give that appearance as both abused and abuser manage to keep finding each other and going through the same dysfunctional “dance” and the pattern keeps repeating.

I think pd expressed it in more accurate terminology but we’re both talking about the same unfortunate phenomenon.

Blondesjon's avatar

@absalom . . . It’s not an error for me. I just clarified my stance along the lines you describe. I simply find the entire thing fucking distasteful and wrong. It is your right to stand up for the semantics of the sexualization of children. It is my right to not agree.

Be certain those lines are sealed in your house. You don’t want to become a statistic.

HumourMe's avatar

@Buttonstc I understand what you mean. Thanks for clarifying.

jerv's avatar

I recall answering the same question before on the-site-that-shall-remain-nameless and prefacing it the same way I will preface this answer; I beleive that this question will receive more answers based on emotion and a desire for retribution than on logic, reason, or anything rational.

/me dons asbestos suit…. and some Kevlar after what happened last time

I believe that pedophiles can be reformed, but our society places such a stigma on them that they really have no reason to. If you had to tell the local sheriff where you lived when you moved in, had your name posted everywhere, were restricted in your choices of housing and jobs both by law and by prejudice, and had to endure all of the other hardships that a registered sex offender does, wouldn’t you want to enjoy yourself and then return to the (relative) safety of a prison cell, especially in this economy where not everyone has three hots and a cot and free medical care?

There are many people out there that have sexual fetishes that they dare not act upon and many more that may experiment but find it not worthwhile to indulge in again, possibly due to a fear of consequences. Unfortunately, once a pedophile acts once, they suffer the consequences regardless so they see no reason not to become a repeat offender.

In fact, this reaction is why some of the victims wind up dead; trying to hide the evidence! Who is Jessica Lunsford going to tell what happened to her if she were buried and hidden? Nobody, so therefore killing her after molesting her made sense (in a sick, twisted sort of way).

So in a way, the high rate of recidivism amongst pedophiles is the fault of our society. There are many other things that we are more tolerant of, and it is possible to reform any type of addict and keep them from satisfying their urges.

Now, I won’t claim that it’s always possible to do so. There are many alcoholics that won’t stop drinking no matter what, but there are also many alcoholics that acknowledge their weakness, modify their behavior accordingly, and thus never drink again. Sure, they are still alcoholics, but they control their urges.

Another thing is that the “pedophile” label is given out a little too freely due to an overzealous urge to protect our youth. An 18 year old boy having consensual sex with a 16 year old girl is a pedophile. If a girl under 18 gets in my face and I go to shove her away and touch her breasts in the process, that is sexual assault on a minor. See where I’m going here?

In short, I beleive that it is possible to reform at least some pedophiles and that not all of the people we call pedophiles truly are. We just have such a strong reaction to the issue that our judgment gets a little clouded.

Besides, if even ONE pedophile ever reforms, that is proof that it is possible and thus changes the question to one of success rates.

jerv's avatar

@john65pennington You are partially correct, but I would like your feedback in particular because, well, you are John Pennington and you have unique experience that I lack . I’ve always respected your opinion even when I disagreed with you. I agree that they will always have urges, but do you beleive that it is possible to reform them at least enough to control them like a statistically significant percentage of alcoholics do?

dpworkin's avatar

@jerv Where do any of the facts in your conclusions come from? Or are you just expressing an opinion without any particular or specialized knowledge?

jerv's avatar

@pdworkin Open your eyes. Reality is my source. I can’t cite specific details unless you want a bibliography of everything I have seen, read, and experienced in my life.
However, I can say that I have read MANY things, studied quite a few in detail (including psychology), and have a different way of looking at things which grants me a perspective that is often different from the mainstream.
Of course, Nikola Tesla faced the same issues.

HumourMe's avatar

@jerv What exactly is the mainstream perspective?

dpworkin's avatar

@jerv Perhaps that’s why I didn’t find your answer illuminating. No real basis for your musings. Maybe if you could cite some peer-reviewed studies you would be taken more seriously. This way, it seems as if you are just kind of jawboning, which is not very illuminating.

jerv's avatar

@HumourMe Considering the number of odd looks I’ve gotten over the years, it’s apparently something other than my perspective.

@pdworkin Considering that many people nowadays merely recite soundbites from their media of choice, I fail to see how you can take me less seriously than others unless you are also the type of person who perferes to go with the mainstream and disregard anything that disagrees with your preconceived notions.
But the real point here is that you apparently did not read the question.

“DO YOU BELIEVE..?.”

I stated MY beliefs, therefore I answered the question. Even if I am not omniscient and morally pure, you cannot deny that fact, nor can you tell me what I believe, nor can you tell me what I know or don’t know since you are not me.
BTW – how much psychology have you studied and what types? Since you seem to be refuting my credibility here, the burden is on you to prove that you are more credible than me, so I am going to wait until you satisfy me of YOUR credentials before I feel a need to justify myself.

rangerr's avatar

I haven’t read all the responses, but here’s my opinion.

Fuck not literally anyone who sexually abuses anyone.
But a CHILD? That ruins lives.
I don’t give a crap what your statistics say. Kids who were abused like that when they were young remember it all. It’s fucking scary, and it’s fucking disgusting.

My opinion is, if you sexually abuse a child, then you need to be castrated or have your lady parts cut off and shoved in jail until you die there.

dpworkin's avatar

Oh, no. I leave that to the readers @jerv

HumourMe's avatar

@jerv Ah I see, but from what I’ve seen with your answers, I wouldn’t give you an odd look.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

There are a small number of “sex offenders” who have been mislabeled due to quirks in the law.

Mike and Sue have been dating for five years and when Sue was 30 days shy of her 18th birthday, she and Mike (18 years and two months) consumated their relationship. Sue’s mother found out and Mike was arrested and is now listed in the Sex Offender Registry.

There is no reason to fear that Mike will continue to be a pedophile or serial child molester.

On the other hand, most most serial child molesters have formed a life-long attachment to children as their primary sexual target and they demonstrate a serious lack of impulse control. As a group they show a very high incidence of repeatedly offending. They have a low probability of rehabilitation.

Sociopaths or psychopaths whose crime of choice is some form or other of sexual misconduct can not be rehabilitated

The sooner a person with pedophilia are identified, the great the chance they can learn to control their impulses and avoid becoming a chronic sex offender.

I base my comments on my clinical experience and my training as a clinician which of course involved critical reviews of the peer reviewed literature.

Just because the probabilities for are given group are low does not mean that rehabilitation is always impossible. Experts in the field are better at identifying individuals who may be better candidates for rehabilitation and the motivation of the individual and the strength of his support systems play a big role in the outcome of treatment.

Despite the ease with which we may become enraged at sexually based offenses, proposing that all sexual offenders offenders be slaughtered, castrated or banished to a deserted island are neither reasonable or appropriate.

Yes, society needs to be protected from those who cannot learn to control their behaviour and avoid committing sexual offenses. In many cases, long-term institutionalization in hospitals for the criminally insane or in prisons is the only solution available to our courts. I know of any magical answer for such offenders.

jerv's avatar

@rangerr Thank you for proving my point.

@HumourMe Maybe not, but that doesn’t change the fact that other people do; enough to make me the minority voice. It seems that I am in the minority on a lot of things.

dpworkin's avatar

See @jerv? Follow @Dr_Lawrence‘s example and your credibility will be much enhanced.

jerv's avatar

@pdworkin Okay, I will get my doctorates in Everythingology now just to satisfy you. Or at the very least, I will provide a bibliography that covers at least three pages on every answer I post form now on. Would that satisfy you?
I guess I can’t know anything without ISO9001 documentation to prove that I even know how to wipe my own ass…..

(And yes, I am a little punchy right now.)

dpworkin's avatar

@jerv I don’t care if you’re credible. It’s no skin off my nose. I though you might care about being credible.

jerv's avatar

@pdworkin On an issue like this, credibility means little compared to public opinion. I wish it were otherwise, I really do, but as far as this particular debate goes, I feel no reason to bother since I am fairly certain that most peopel have made up their minds anyways and thus I couldn’t change their opinions even if I were God. Therefore, I am just laying out my thoughts on the matter.
If I wanted to be truly credible in every area that I actually know a lot about, I would still be in college for another 50 years at least. Such is the price of being able to absorb and assimilate data as well as have your own insights. Like I said, Nikola Tesla had the same issues. Granted, he had them worse and I make no claims to be on his level, but it’s a questoin of magnitude and not direction.

HumourMe's avatar

I’m not quite sure why the moderators aren’t stepping into this off topic argument. Yet they seem to attend to other answers that aren’t even worth moderating or removing. Just a thought.

randomness's avatar

It depends. I believe that some can, and some cannot. Some on the sex offender registry do not even need rehabilitating.

However, the fact of the matter is that a huge number of sex offenders do re-offend. Either these people cannot be rehabilitated, or we just aren’t doing a very good job of rehabilitating them. Seeing as in most cases, society does not even try to rehabilitate these men and women, I’d have to say that people who jump the gun and say that sex offenders cannot be rehabilitated are somewhat silly. How do we know that they can’t be fixed? When we catch them, we just lock them in a room for a few years, and then set them loose…. why do we expect this to rehabilitate?

I say we actually start trying to rehabilitate offenders, and then we can formulate a better answer to this question.

dpworkin's avatar

@randomness In 1941 (I think – maybe it was 1946) an man named Hervey Cleckly wrote a famous book called The Mask of Sanity. It is still referred to as a classic study of sociopaths. Since Cleckley’s time a few things have changed, but not the prognosis for sociopathy. That is unchanged. It is untreatable, and lasts a lifetime, although acting-out episodes diminish with age.

jerv's avatar

@pdworkin Many other things diminish with age too. Why do you think I am able to have anything remotely resembling an attention span?
Seriously though, how can we really address this issue without recognizing the difference between a person with incurable and uncontrollable tendencies from those that can be mitigated (not all alcoholics still drink) and how do either of those relate to what the law labels “sex offender”? To me. that is like comparing apples and Buicks and then not bothering to sort the apples.

dpworkin's avatar

I said above that sociopathy is often, though not always, co-morbid with certain paraphilias. The patient who is not a sociopath may be able to be treated. There is currently no protocol for treating someone who suffers from Antisocial Personality Disorder. There just isn’t, no matter how much do-gooders may whine.

randomness's avatar

@pdworkin I know we don’t have a way to effectively deal with sociopaths. However, not all sex offenders are sociopaths, and we can treat them, we just choose to ignore the problem, and let them re-offend. Putting a man in a jail cell for 10 years does not stop him from being attracted to children.

dpworkin's avatar

That’s true. Not all sex offenders are sociopaths. I have now said that three or four times in this thread.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

yesterday I finally saw “To Catch a Predator” (that MSNBC show) for the first time…and I hated its premise – what is the point of getting these people to come into a house where they’d meet a child for sex or whatever, only to yell at them and have them leave…it seems like the show is too much for us, the audience and not for any good purpose…though the host does think too much of himself

dpworkin's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir That show was a profit center for a while, until it became too repetitive. People like to watch train wrecks.

absalom's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir

I agree. It never entertained me and it’s neither news-worthy nor educational.

They were also arrested if they’d done illegal things prior to the visit (like showing their junk to what they thought was a thirteen-year-old girl).

I’m not sure whether those that didn’t do illegal things prior were also arrested. Can one be arrested for intent?

Either way it seems kind of cruel to me (though some really deserve the exposure and punishment). But, being all kinds of gay, I guess I am a sympathizer.

Blondesjon's avatar

@absalom . . . How in God’s name does being gay make you sympathize with peophilia?

absalom's avatar

@Blondesjon: I guess because I know some people think homosexuality is disgusting (and comparable to pedophilia). It grosses me out, too, and I don’t understand it. Given the choice I would also not associate with pedophiles. But there are people who would say the very same thing of me because I’m gay.

Unless he has hurt a child or acted on his urges, there is no reason for me to hate a pedophile, no matter how frightening or strange his paraphilia. I had no control over my homosexuality, and so I can only believe he was equivocally helpless in the development of his desires.

I don’t pity child molesters. They do bad, bad things. (My father was molested as a child, by a priest, and it still haunts him. It’s why I’ve never been to church.) But I can hold child molesters accountable. They’ve acted. I can’t hold someone accountable or despise him, however, because he’s attracted to children. That attraction, insofar as I have experienced sexuality, is out of his control.

Surely pedophiles exist who have never touched a child in their lives. Should we condemn them, too? It seems unjust to me. The paraphilia is, on the whole, highly problematic (and that’s an understatement) because it seems to harm not only what children become its victims but also the person afflicted with the paraphilia. I agree with you that, socially, it would be better if pedophiles did not exist. But they do exist, and they are people.

Blondesjon's avatar

@absalom . . . Homosexuality is a sexual preference practiced by adults with other adults. To compare it with pedophilia on any level is degrading. Doing so also helps to reinforce all of the negative stereotypes that are wrongly associated with homosexuality. I’m not even gay and that pisses me off.

dpworkin's avatar

@Blondesjon, thanks, GA. I’m sorry I’m maxed out on you, but GA anyway.

absalom's avatar

@Blondesjon: I was merely saying they are both sexualities that can’t be controlled. I could compare any two generalized sexualities the same way and neither will be “degraded”. Do you deny what I said, then?

Most important: sexuality does not indicate the “practice” of sex. I’ve never had sex with another man, but that doesn’t mean I’m not homosexual. Pedophilia may either be practiced or not practiced. If it’s practiced, a kid gets hurt. I don’t want to see pedophilia practiced. But a pedophile who doesn’t practice pedophilia is still a pedophile. The difference is that he doesn’t harm anybody.

jerv's avatar

@Blondesjon You mean that there has never been a homosexual under the age of 18? News to me! Many of my gay friends knew before the were old enough to be considered “adults”, so you can be offended all you want but the truth is that they are comparable.
As for reinforcing all of the negative stereotypes about homosexuals, generally the types of people that confuse the two are the types of people who have a shrine to Glen Beck and/or Rush Limbaugh in their house anyways.

@absalom I tried to say the same thing but nobody wanted to listen. It seems that there is such a desire for protecting children that people don’t mind treating a pedophile (or even a suspected pedophile) as an animal so they can justify all sorts of mistreatment as a form of proactive defense. It doesn’t matter if they ever actually diddle a kid or not, they’re going to be crucified either way.
Nothing is more dangerous than a person who has nothing left to lose, so our lack of compassion turns full-circle and bites us in the ass.

Blondesjon's avatar

@jerv . . . Whatever persuasive arguments you try to make the one thing that you cannot change is that a pedophile is an adult that is sexually attracted to a child. This means that, by proxy, you also sympathize with molestation (the pedophile equivalent of sex) and kiddie porn (the pedophile equivalent of adult pornography).

I am generally a morally corrupt person but when it comes to this even I know that it’s fucking wrong. Shame on you for bearing the torch for pedophilia.

absalom's avatar

@Blondesjon

This means that, by proxy, you also sympathize with molestation (the pedophile equivalent of sex) and kiddie porn (the pedophile equivalent of adult pornography).

It means no such thing. That is flawed logic.

I condone neither child molestation nor child pornography. I don’t understand how you came to such a conclusion, either. Heterosexuals can molest one another, too, but that doesn’t mean the sexuality known as heterosexual is wrong or bad.

Of course it’s wrong to have sex with a child (and of course it’s ultimately molestation). I’m not arguing that. But should we really hate someone or say he is “wrong” because of what his body responds to? He has no control over it. That’s all I’m saying. I’m not defending NAMBLA or kiddie porn or any of that shit. I’m just saying pedophiles aren’t necessarily or inherently bad provided they don’t touch a kid.

Blondesjon's avatar

By this logic a loaded gun is not dangerous so long as it isn’t fired and the Ebola virus is harmless so long as it hasn’t made anyone sick.

absalom's avatar

Guns and viruses don’t have self-control.

(We’re talking about people, here, not inanimate objects or thoughtless agents of infection.)

Blondesjon's avatar

That’s right we are talking about an adult that can look at a five year old child and become sexually aroused.

I think I’d rather hang with the gun and the Ebola.

absalom's avatar

So would I. But do we stymie our compassion because we find it disagreeable or disgusting? We can, but then we are no better than the fools who show up at military funerals with posters that bear the words GOD HATES FAGS.

jerv's avatar

@Blondesjon Let me try to follow your logic though…
Hitler was a kid once, so it’s obvious that kids have the potential to kill millions. Therefore, it is in the best interests of humanity to kill children.
Sorry, not making sense here.

I am with absalom; the ability to control those urges counts for a lot. Now, if they actually take those thoughts and turn them into action then it’s a whole different ball-game.

dpworkin's avatar

I sympathize with your sentiments, @Blondesjon, but it is awfully difficult to disagree with @absalom.

Blondesjon's avatar

<shrugs>

i need a shower.

avvooooooo's avatar

With everything I’ve ever learned about certain types of sex offenders, the ones you’re thinking about, rehabilitation is highly unlikely. For others, like those convicted of statutory rape (like the 18 year old hooking up with the underage girl) or other offenses that have circumstances that are unlikely to be repeated or that are non-violent, absolutely. Flashers yes, rapists, no.

There is something that some sex offenders are having done called chemical castration that I think I’m in favor of. My unsurity comes from the fact that the procedure is relatively new and that there aren’t any long term results to be studied for effectiveness. It might seem cruel and unusual, but if its effective at rehabilitating those who are unsalvageable, I think its a decent option.

jerv's avatar

@avvooooooo I’ve also heard a couple of stories of convicted sex offenders requesting chemical castration before they are released and being denied. I don’t know how common that sort of thing really is, but I have heard of it happening. Sad really, and I hope that it isn’t common, that those stories were just flukes. I hate to see peopel who want to change being denied the help that they need.

dpworkin's avatar

There are a couple of Scandinavian countries in which chemical castration is used as part of certain treatment programs. There are some longitudinal studies which show a dramatic drop in recidivism, but that is tempered by the fact that many offenders are non-compliant with their meds.

jerv's avatar

@pdworkin I think that part of any sort of treatment, whether it be aberrant sexuality, chemical addiction, or whatever, depends mostly on the person’s desire to change. It’s far easier to quit smoking if you actually want to quit, and the success rates are higher amongst those who really want to stop whatever it is that they are doing than amongst people who are only in a treatment plan because they were forced into the program.

dpworkin's avatar

Hence the non-compliance.

galileogirl's avatar

The only possibility is not rehabilitation but management. What we generally consider rehabilitation is a series of group therapy meetings until the offender learns the right words to indicate his repentance, a prescription, a list of rules and a promise to offend no more. For a repeat offender maybe there will be an annual home visit. He’s OK as long as he isn’t caught in the act.

What is needed is close monitoring. Weekly visits with a parole officer who checks an electronic anklet. Required medication with weekly testing. Weekly group therapy with people who recognize manipulation and can call the offender on it. Weekly one on one psychotherapy. His crimes and status must be shared with neighbors and workmates so that any transgressions can be reported. He must be disallowed from any communication with any child. If he has children and grandchildren he may only be allowed supervised visits (with non family members) And this must be for the rest of his life.

Of course we won’t do this because we are a fix it or discard it society unwilling to accept that everything can’t be fixed.

dpworkin's avatar

That sounds about right, @galileogirl, but it’s too cost-intensive for a society that refuses to provide health care as a right, child care for its workers, and real security for its impoverished elderly.

galileogirl's avatar

People might think it too expensive but even on an economic level, there is an offset in prison costs (abt $25,000/yr), the cost of getting the offender in jail (at least $25,000 per offense) the cost of the death penalty ($2.3 mil per case in TX), That does not even count the social and psychological costs to the community. The reality is dealing with a problem is always cheaper than cleaning up the aftermath and THEN dealing with the problem.

dpworkin's avatar

Too bad you and I don’t set social policy.

rooeytoo's avatar

Is any money spent on rehabilitating the victims?

Blondesjon's avatar

@rooeytoo . . .Haven’t you been paying attention? The perpetrators are the victims. The folks hollering that they’ve been raped or molested haven’t considered that they were simply on the receiving end of natural and misunderstood urges.

dpworkin's avatar

I don’t think anyone has said that. I have been saying that these people are dangerous, and as of now we don’t have a protocol to treat them. But why would you object if one were found? It would reduce the horror on one side of the equation, and increase the ethical fairness on the other.

@rooeytoo however makes an important point. I volunteer 24 hours a week in a rape crisis, domestic violence and child sexual abuse clinic in my county. It is extremely underfunded, and victims are not getting anywhere near enough assistance.

galileogirl's avatar

Neither of you is paying attention. Elimination of the perpetrator is never going to be an option. The post prison options are treatment or management as described in my previous post. Don’t try to even bring up life in prison. There will never be a possibility of that w/o multiple convictions and how many victims do you think there are before there is a conviction? This is not about the fantasy of revenge, it is about the reality of limiting the access to victims.

dpworkin's avatar

I can answer one of those questions. There are about 80 victims for each conviction, and since it is an underreported crime, that is a very low estimate.

rooeytoo's avatar

I think those statistics are what bring people to the conclusion that castration or even capital punishment is an answer.

When you say 2.3 mil for the death penalty, is that the amount of money spent on the court costs to arrive at the decision? Where is the cost incurred?

galileogirl's avatar

So make lifelong management the option or accept 160+ more victims before 3 strikes takes over.

@rooeytoo Forced physical castration will never be an option, since it has been noted elsewhere men of color have a disproprtionately higher conviction rate due to their economic status, nobody wjll touch that hot potato. Chemical castration is ineffective by itself because sexual assault is about the violence, not the “good sex”

The $2.3 mil includes add’l incarceration costs for Death Row over general population plus the costs of the appeals.

dpworkin's avatar

I just looked in the archives of the New Yorker Magazine for an article about the Scandinavian longitudinal studies on physical and chemical castration. I’m sorry I couldn’t find it, but maybe someone else will have better luck. I wish I could remember more detail for the search terms, such as the author, etc. but it’s been a few years. The gist of it is that reducing testosterone levels does seem to work (testosterone has effects on both propensities, violence and sex.) but that physical castration poses ethical problems as pointed out above, and chemical castration depends upon compliance.

jerv's avatar

@galileogirl You are correct about the costs, but those come out of the purses/wallets of the working people, so the people in charge really don’t care about the cost.

Just to head off any smartass who says we can save a lot of money by eliminating appeals for death row inmates, then look into the case of Cameron Todd Willingham. Hell, look at the Inquisitions, Salem Witch Trials, and other “great” moments in history!

galileogirl's avatar

@jerv Most everything comes from the earnings of the workers and always have——what’s your point?

And why are we looking at the Inquisition and witch trials? Because workers bore the costs in taxes and tithes, so give the people what they want?

dpworkin's avatar

I think he is saying that the justice system is fallible.

jerv's avatar

@pdworkin Yes! Thank you for getting it.

galileogirl's avatar

So————we should make it better, not stating the obvious or wasting time on retribution fantasies.

dpworkin's avatar

@galileogirl I think part of the reason people have retribution fantasies is that they meditate on the suffering of children. How do you propose parents, for example, deal with those feelings?

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@galileogirl Life in prison isn’t always an option, but many states have procedures for civil commitment. After a sex offender’s prison term is over, many are kept in mental hospitals indefinitely. (Here is New York State’s civil commitment law.)

flutherother's avatar

People are put on the high risk sexual offenders register for the very good reason that there is a high risk they will offend again. However I think it is wrong to assume that just because someone is on the register that they committed the murder. If he is guilty he will be found out I have no doubt but the possibility is there that someone else did it.

jerv's avatar

@flutherother I beg to differ. Read the tail end of my first post, which I will reprint here for your convenience;

“Another thing is that the “pedophile” label is given out a little too freely due to an overzealous urge to protect our youth. An 18 year old boy having consensual sex with a 16 year old girl is a pedophile. If a girl under 18 gets in my face and I go to shove her away and touch her breasts in the process, that is sexual assault on a minor. See where I’m going here?

In short, I beleive that it is possible to reform at least some pedophiles and that not all of the people we call pedophiles truly are. We just have such a strong reaction to the issue that our judgment gets a little clouded.”

However, I agree with your second point since it is entirely possible that someone not in the registry is fully capable of committing the sort of crime that those already in the registry have. After all, those in the registry weren’t born with their name there; they earned the “honor” of getting their name put there.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Fact from fiction, truth from diction. So many time people use generalizations to debunk what is said of a given person, group of people or politicians, yet when it comes to those labeled as sex offenders let the generalizations fly.

The first hurdle is who is a sex offender and what is it exactly? Depending what nation or community you are living in what is a sex crime changes. There are places on this planet where people who are exercising their freedom or having some good old fashion out of wedlock boinking would be criminals, maybe even to the point of being punished with death. In most of the world if you had sex with a 16yr old it would be no crime even in many places in the USA, gasp I leaked the big secret. In California it would be a crime. Until not so long ago there were sodomy laws in place in most states. Sex offender moniker is basically a scare tactic so people can get into office, stay in office, or the news can get you to tune in.

As been said many don’t care to have anyone attached with a sex offender moniker living in their neighborhood because they feel their family, more then not, the kids are in grave danger. If they ever really studied what sex offence was and all the different flavors of it they are creating boogey men where there are none. If the person suffered from pedophilia he/she would have a target age or sex usually. If the person had a thing for females 6–8 –for instance—your 12yr daughter and all your boys of any age would be safe, no risk, they are not in the target range. If the man done time for sex with teen boys 14–18 all of your girls any age would be safe, he is not into females. And surely if he was a mere peeping Tom outside of giving kids or women the heebie jeebies they would be as harmless as an exhibitionist or a guy taking a wiz in public and getting caught; they don’t want to interact with the mark.

They can be rehabilitated like anyone else can. About 20 years ago I met a person who was a clinical pedophile. I am not sure if he had a ”gene” that caused his desire to be what it was or because he was molested a 6yr old by a teen female cousin or exposed to bestiality in his early childhood by another male cousin; (he said he remembered the sex with the female cousin and that he enjoyed it). It took hard work, very hard work for him to get control over acting on his cravings. It can be done with those who really want change.

Another thing is anyone who have any form of arousal for a minor is labeled a pedophile. Mary Kay (LeTourneau) Fualauu was not a pedophile, her desire or attraction was connected to her now husband Vili. Her attraction was not to young boys for the sake they were young boys, anymore than Jerry Lee Lewis married Myra Gale Brown, his 1st cousin once removed because he was ga ga over prepubescent girls. His attraction as with LeTourneau was from personal connection same as anyone’s.

Strange how most worry if they have a sex offender in the neighborhood because they believe them dangerous to their kids and can’t be cured but don’t think about who is driving through their neighborhood. A neighbor who lost his car and license because of one too many DUIs told me he learned in DUI class that for every time a drunk got stopped he drove somewhere drunk an excess of 65 times and not gotten caught. So when your kids are playing on that curb side b-ball hoop or street hockey up the block the next car headed their way could have a drunk driver at the wheel, and you or they will never know it until it is too late. Not to mention many drunk drivers fall off the wagon around 3 times before they stay sober and a drunk don’t have a target age or sex when he strikes, your 7yr old son to your 14yr old daughter, even you or your spouse is fair game. So who are you really scared of?

flutherother's avatar

@jerv I take your point about the Sex Offender Register including too wide a range of offences and people fear the worst of anyone who is listed but I am doubtful whether a basic urge such as the sexual instinct can be reformed. There are very few people who are a serious threat to children but those that are remain potentially dangerous and we are as well to know about them. Some of the worst cases of course are committed within the family and there is not much we can do about that.

Hibernate's avatar

They can be rehabilitated but the will to redeem themselves must come out from them not when they hear they will get punished .
The guilt should the prime importance in these cases .

But it will take a long time .

onceavictim's avatar

I would also have to blame society. Society allows porn on television, interenet, ipods, cellphones. It is nothing like when I was growing up. The worse thing seen was a dirty magazine. We have teenagers becoming addicted to porn because society allows it to be at there disposal even when parents are trying their best to prevent it. You have teenagers wanting to perform acts on siblings or other family members to see what it is like. When an act like this happens whether it is touching, oral, or even penetration this is the outcome. When you try to get a child help it is almost impossible because most of the help is for the victim and there is very few outlets to help the teenager. If there is it is usually outside of where they live, even your own insurance companies will not pay for such help. So tell me how do we stop it. SOCIETY doesn’t allow it. The situations to where it all derives from some have no idea, especially those that have little or no clinical expirence. If we could start by helping figure out how to stop it instead of how harshly we should punish then maybe just maybe the world would be a whole lot better place. My expirence is I am a victim. My stepfather tried to moleste me, I had to spend every night awake to protect myself, pretending to collect wine and whiskey bottles so I could store them on my headboard in case I needed to protect myself. He would drug my mother so she would sleep through me screaming and he could run back and get dressed before she did. It didnt mattter because she was running after him while he was trying to leaving instead of consoling her own daughter he tried to moleste. He never achieved his goal because I never let him. I come from the school of hard knox when it comes to survival, none of you know what it is really like and if you do then you know what I am talking about.

Never ever think it can’t happen to you or yours because it can when you least expect it. So with that said why don’t we try to help fix the problem instead of judge. Yes these are lude acts of nature and some cannot be rehabilitated and some cannot be forgiven, but always remember there is an underlying situation and it is up to us to find out what it is to stop it. That is the problem with society they want to place blame. point fingers and act as the judge and jury. All I want is for it to be stopped. And the only way to do that is to help not overlook.,... Good Day

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