Are We All Bad Judges of Character?
Hidden in Plain Sight
Child molesters are everywhere it seems. There might be one living in your street, probably a handful in your neighbourhood. They come from a variety of backgrounds and take on many different jobs, often choosing a career that places them in easy access to young boys and girls. They are labourers , school teachers, members of the clergy, politicians, in the police force or even entertainers.
They are, more often then not, well respected and liked. In fact it is to their advantage, not yours, for them to fit in and be likable. They hide what they secretly like to do very well so that it is no surprise when a child who is molested by them is met with non belief from the adult he or she felt most compelled to tell. Some might even accuse the child of being a liar or at the least, making up stories. But do we really believe these kids are lying or using their imagination? or is it because it is easier to believe the 'accused'?
Who Do We Believe?
Why is it that many are unwilling to believe a child who says an adult has touched them inappropriately, over a friend, relative or acquaintance who denies it, if they are even questioned at all?
Being duped by others we trust is not pleasant. When we allow another person into our life, be it through friendship or marriage, it is because we feel we can trust them. The more they are involved in our life the closer we feel to them. The last thing we want to do is find that we 'got them wrong', that perhaps we never knew them at all. That they got under our guard.
For some people it becomes much easier to side with the accused, who denies they are capable of such horrendous acts, than to step away from the perpetrator and admit that they were a bad judge of character.
Fall From Grace
Celebrities and entertainers in general have a unique ability to enter our hearts through their craft. They and their managers, with the assistance of the media, build a persona that will draw fans to them like bees to honey.
We think we know them but in truth they are often nothing like the characters they play or the story that has been built around them. We are therefore shocked if our favourite celebrity is arrested for drunk driving or drugs, or commits suicide or harms another person. All along we thought their lives were blessed with health, wealth and happiness. We had them up a pedastal perhaps. What we had seen of their lives, as concocted by themselves and those close to them, is now revealed as a sham. Some were crying out for help, for some sort of attention but the Rolf's of the world are arrogant and selfish and only know how to use other people to get what they want and where they want to be.
What we believe about the predators of this world has been supported by many people along the way. Many people might know about their illegal and immoral behaviour and chose to ignore it for various reasons. They might stand to lose their job, an inheritance, friends etc. But all of this plays out perfectly for the child molester who finds strength and acceptance in their silence and non-action.
So where is the lesson in all of this? It doesn't seem enough to be vigilant. A typical child molester is cunning and sly and if they are so easy for us to like then what can we possibly do to safeguard children?
I used to think that a child molester could be spotted in a crowd, that they would look or act different to others but I was wrong. Even our instincts might at times let us down, we are human and we make mistakes.. I believe our instincts together with really listening to what kids say is a good combination. As a parent, if your child doesn't want to sit on Uncle Jimmy's lap then dont force him to. If they don't feel comfortable sleeping over at a friends house, let them decide. Encourage talk by telling them that they can come to you with anything that is troubling them and that you love them unconditionally.
Will there ever be a world where no child is molested? I sure hope so. But for now prevention is far better than a cure.
Is Jail The Answer For Repeat Offenders?
Why Jail Time Doesn't Work
There are way more criminals than we have jails for which means that we can not build them fast enough. A scary thought. Does this mean that sentencing time will be drastically reduced with some criminals not serving time at all or made to do community work? This might not be so bad if the criminal has committed a minor crime but sentencing for serious crimes right across the board appears to be getting less in the number of years actually served. Too many criminals who should never be released are getting out and others are not serving enough time to warrant their crimes.
Repeat offenders in my opinion repeat because they do not learn anything from their punishment. Those of us on the right side of the law usually look at consequences for actions before they jump right in and act on impulse, we also know right from wrong and take responsibility for our actions. Repeat offenders seem to be unable to look at consequences and refuse to abide by what is right from wrong, and know nothing about responsibility, it is always the fault of someone else. So this is where the problem is in regard to jail time not working for repeat offenders
Well obviously we can't, as a functioning society, just let the repeat offenders keep doing what they are doing without being responsible for their actions. And I really don't have any answers, which I know is not what you were hoping to hear. What I do know is that a lot of professional people that work in the justice and prison systems have known this for a long time and yet no one seems to be doing anything constructive. They just continue to keep locking them up with no interest in finding out why they keep coming back. If someone could find the difference between a repeat offender and a law abiding citizen then maybe crime would be diminished. Perhaps it comes from how we are raised..then beneficial parenting programs need to be introduced. If it is a chemical imbalance in the brain then allow free treatment to bring the balance back.
Wherever the answer lies we need people to remain open and inquisitive about how to prevent more dysfunction in society. Criminals may be out of sight while they are behind bars but they all (mostly) are given freedom again eventually. Perhaps punishment isn't the entire answer. As a child, punishment is usually associated with feelings of shame and this is often true too for adults. We sometimes think that shame will prevent us and others from doing the same thing again but does it always work? The feeling of shame itself is different for everyone so it would probably depend on how much bad feeling is associated with it or how much shame one is willing to put up with (if they were caught) to commit a crime.
There is also the issue of how much they believe they will get caught and for repeat offenders this is also a strong point. The majority of them are convinced they were unlucky the first time and are made smarter each time they commit. This is a false belief of course but one they are determined to prove right.
Personally I believe that children's early cognitive development holds the key. If we can do our best to raise kind and caring children who are comfortable in revealing all of their feelings in a safe way while honouring the feelings of others. If we as adults demonstrate to them that they are important with valid ideas and feelings, really listen to them and interact with them. If we can, instead of making them feel shame and dishing out punishment to them, explain or show the consequences of their actions in a caring way we will be raising happy future contributors to society.