Approach about reducing child abuse victim numbers

SHARE
‘‘And there was light’’ — 27 years ago Kia Marama, New Zealand’s first specialist prison treatment centre for child sex offenders, opened at Rolleston Prison against considerable objection.
‘ In our society we have people who will always be alcoholics but will never touch alcohol again, and we have people who will always be paedophiles but will never harm a child
again. ‘
Previously child sex offenders (CSOs) had been seen as ‘‘untreatable’’, but this centre, among the first of its type in the world, reduced reoffending with its kaupapa of ‘‘no more victims’’, and helps manage the transition of CSOs from prison to community.
With an average 400 child sex abuse convictions a year, it is understandable why many react with a common sentiment — ‘‘they should be strung up’’.
As even fringe political parties do not have policies similar to that, police address this controversial issue with objectivity — an approach not about satisfying societies’ distaste for paedophiles, but about what will help reduce the number of child victims.
Most can acknowledge the vigilante approach to where a paedophile’s place in our world sits is counterproductive as targeting someone is more likely to ostracise and bring about reoffending.
Child victim interviews take place at my suburban sole station as it provides a ‘‘homelike’’ situation, helping create a relaxed environment for children to talk, and the CPT (Child Protection Team) do an emotionally tough job.
Part of my role has been to ‘‘cold call’’ child sex offenders in my patch. Getting a good read on how CSOs are coping with life, and noticing state-ofmind indicators and negative triggers such as abuse of alcohol/drugs, depressive behaviour and inhibition, helps assess their risk to society and prevent recidivism.
I find some CSOs are desperate to repent, some struggle with the abuse they themselves have suffered, and some blame society or anyone but themselves for their ills.
When in certain situations I’ve released information about people I’ve had concerns about to local schools, agencies or neighbours, I’ve been proud of the mature, vigilant way Dunedin people have dealt with it.
I need to spellcheck the word ‘‘paedophile’’ and it’s a pity the real issue isn’t as easy to sort. It’s a balancing act aiming for the right mix of rehabilitation, information sharing, monitoring, reducing opportunity and enforcement to keep Dunedin as safe as it can be.
In our society we have people who will always be alcoholics but will never touch alcohol again, and we have people who will always be paedophiles but will never harm a child again.