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Linda Settles

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Our Only Chance
By Linda Settles   
Not "rated" by the Author.
Last edited: Friday, March 06, 2009
Posted: Sunday, February 08, 2009

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Changing the way society deals with sexual offenders is our only chance to save the children...


When you consider that statistics show that between 1/4 to 1/3 of adult women and a growing number of men were molested before age 18, most of them around the age of 7, then you wonder how in the world the legal system can deal with a problem of that magnitude. 


If an offender was arrested for each of those crimes, do you think we would have enough prisons to house them all?  So, what does that tell us?  That most of them freely roam our streets and prey upon our children.


This is not paranoia--this is fact.  As a counselor, I talk with those who are trying to pick up the pieces of shattered lives and I grieve for the little girls and boys--in every school, every church, and every neighborhood that are victims even as I write. 


So what do we do?  How do we take our grief and sorrow over this appalling fact of life and put it to work to make a difference?


I am concerned as I read more frequent glimpses into the evolving hate movement toward vigilante action.  We force sexual offenders to reveal their addresses (which is good) but I have to ask: how would we restrain the violence vigilantes could do to convicted sex offenders and their families?  Some might say, Good!  Teach 'em a lesson.  I cannot agree.


I lived in the home with a violent sexual offender throughout my childhood.  I was victimized in numerous ways.  But I lived through it.  I became a survivor.  I became, also, a counselor so I could help others.  I became an activist against child abuse.  Vigilante actions would have as likely harmed me and my six siblings as the offender.  I empathize with the growing desire of parents and other angry citizens to put an end to the sex offender’s heinous crimes.  But more violence is not the answer. 


The answer lies the in long and arduous road of recovery.  It lies in giving severe sentences for the perpetration--and extending our mantle of justice to include colluders who know what the perp is doing and go along with it.  The answer will have to include providing a safe place for potential sexual offenders to recover from their own traumatic pasts and find the pathway to restoration to a society that will hold them accountable without malice. Calling sexual offenders monsters will not challenge them to redeem the numbed humanity deep within them—it will fan the fires of hatred and revenge that they have for themselves and provoke them to perpetrate that inferno on the most vulnerable among us—our children.


Balance is never easy to obtain.  Those who call for it are often judged, ostracized, and condemned along with the offender regardless of the crime.  Example, Martin Luther King: those who wanted extreme measures to rid society of the stain of racism condemned Dr. King for his non-aggressive stance.  Others criticized him for proactively taking a stand. 


We will never eradicate sexual abuse as long as depravity exists.  And depravity is a condition common to mankind since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden.  We can manage it--we can convict the criminal, counsel, the abuser and his victims and condemn the heinous behaviors that rob children of their innocence and damage their life.  But I insist that until we stop calling sexual predators monsters and begin to see them a sick, weak, twisted human beings with a soul and the potential for redemption-- we will see them reenact their own personal trauma with increasing abandon. 


For the sake of the children, let’s work together to create a workable plan for bringing offender’s to justice and then providing resources to restore the human dignity that they may have forfeited long before they were old enough to realize what they have lost.


Every sexual offender who takes advantage of the opportunity to change and be restored to society is one less threat to the well-being of our children—and may be a soul redeemed from certain destruction at the hands of a Divine Parent who will certainly hold him accountable for the consequences of his sin.


© linda settles





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Reviewed by Donna Hollin (Reader) 4/6/2009
I really like this atricle and it's true. I am thankful that you are working on a project that will encourage real help for the offender. Keep up the good work.
Reviewed by J'nia Fowler 2/9/2009
Well executed, pun not intended here, sorry. My poem IF WE speaks to this sort of thing in that the inhuman treatment we force on to another, for any reason backfires and makes us inhuman as well. True, they despise themselves and act it out toward the innocent, and it is up to us to take them to task, to show them that what they have done is criminal and immoral but to work toward forgiving them as well. This forgiveness is an attitude, a journey, a life long determination to live in a state of forgiveness. One cannot heal without it. Blessings, J'nia
Reviewed by Flying Fox Ted L Glines 2/9/2009
Linda, I totally agree with your thesis because my degree was in human development and I work in the area you are talking about. But one must look at the average human condition and the way that average humans react to the perceived child-molester image. The reaction is uneducated and is, to varying degrees, violent. A child-molester who is incarcerated in any prison, anywhere, will be killed by his fellow convicts, unless he is kept in solitary confinement. Even in County Jail, during trial and before incarceration, the child-molester is at risk of being killed.

For a number of reasons, rehabilitation is not feasible for the incarcerated child-molester in prison, except in a prison where all of the inmates are child-molesters. This would possibly work in any state which had the resources to create and staff such a facility. At the present time, I know of no state with such a project on their plan-board.

Rehabilitation is the key element and it is little understood. For the most part, rehabilitation has been a cash-cow for the various departments of correction, and no rehabilitation program has ever produced reliable stats of effectiveness. This is difficult to accept because the various programs claim high rates of success, but their claims fail to be validated by long-term facts. It is currently accepted that rehabilitation takes place when an individual personally decides, within himself, to change (with or without attendance in any rehabilitative group process). Factually, such change-decisions happen most effectively outside of available rehabilitative programs, and there is a reason for this.

In America, most rehabilitative programs are built on the 12-Step model, and the 12-Step model is flawed. Using the most well-known 12-Step program as an understandable example: AA structure depends upon having an active alcoholic membership in order to validate the operation of the AA chapter. If all of the AA chapter members should go "on the wagon" all at once, that chapter loses its program fodder and the chapter may suffer operational collapse, even to the point of closing its doors (we have cases where this has happened). In such cases, chapter members who start drinking again have no AA chapter to turn to for fellowship or help. If you do an in-depth study of all of the members in any AA chapter, you will find one or more members (we call then "facilitators") who have their own social ways of keeping the other members drinking. And that is the single flaw in all of the 12-Step rehabilitation programs. Creating a rehabilitative program model which does not have this one flaw should be the primary goal of anyone who truly wishes to see rehabilitation become an effective program possibility.

Back to the child-molester (I did digress). When the child-molester has survived incarceration and is thence released back into the community under parole supervision, he finds himself in an adversarial relationship with his neighbors, with city law enforcement and city government, and with his parole supervisors, and there are no available programs to provide relief for him. Under this pressure, it will be natural for him to rebel psychologically and withdraw into the satisfaction of his child-molester nature. In essence, we are pressurizing the problem and making it become a monster. This social process needs to be researched and viable answers found.

I think I may blog this in hopes that someone may have a possible answer for this problem.

What Fee said is really the gut-level key to the issue.

Reviewed by Felix Perry 2/9/2009
Well laid out and factual reality piece that offers a lot of insight into both the mind of the victim and the predator. As a rationalist I tend to agree with your theory of predators being sick and in need of help but as a father and grandfather speaking from the heart no punishment is strong enough for them.

PS In regards to my story as I was free writing and the story idea started out as something else and only developed into what it was, it was in error that the ages were posted at sixteen...and they have been amended.


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