|December 21, 2010
Police Not Trained
Read the Article
to know what I'm referring to....
In this article about the increased risk of suicide by individuals accused of child exploitation, the author states that police are not trained or required to assess the suicide risk of those who are charged with child sex offences.
It is also worth noting that the evidence that I have gathered, through my work promoting child sexual abuse prevention, seems to suggest that this is also true for victims reporting sex offences that occurred when they were children. The police do not seem to be trained to receive these complaints with the sensitivity I would expect to be demonstrated towards someone who is disclosing evidence of a traumatic violent crime. It seems that the historical nature of reported child sexual offences lends itself to a misconception that the event no longer has a psychological impact on the victim.
Despite the evidence that the trauma of child sexual abuse causes long-term psychological impact, the police will handle an incoming complaint with as much compassion and concern as a report of an historical fender bender. Mmmm.. maybe even less. I have heard of police putting a lot of effort into finding low value material items....
Lois Powers of the John Howard Society of Toronto (although I confess, I don't know what this society is) says in this article that a restorative justice system offers more support than the criminal justice system. Powers is referring to support for the accused.
I think it's great that this article has been published. Support and Compassion should be a part of conflict resolution. Isolating and rejecting those accused with child sexual offences will not help to reduce the prevelance of child sexual exploitation. And since victims of child sexual offences seem to be provided with half of the supports available to the accused... perhaps improving services to the alleged perpetrators will mean that the victims 'half' will grow proportionally.
This article also states that most of the child pornography offenders are white, male and educated with no previous contact with the criminal system. This means that the people who have the most power and influence in policy making in this country are more likely to identify with the accused than with the victim.
For those of us who would like to see our justice system become truly restorative, it would serve us well to further promote the benefits for the accused, rather than expending energy trying to demonstrate the benefits for the victim.