Tuesday, May 7, 2013

"You wouldn't put an A.A. next to a bar, so why let a sex offender live/ work/ do anything where there are children?"

"You wouldn't put an A.A. next to a bar, so why let a sex offender live/ work/ do anything where there are children?"

You have probably seen this line of thought to justify residency restrictions and other segregation-style laws over the years. The implication of my title suggests that all sex offenders have an illness that is beyond their ability to control. It is an extension of the old "sex offenders cannot be cured" mantra.

This statement is based on a few assumptions. The primary assumption is all people on the list are "uncontrollable pedophiles." There is a clinical definition of pedophilia, which includes a long-term period of sexual attraction to prepubescent girls (usually under age 12). The popular usage is an improper usage, much like when we used to say, "that's bad" when we mean something was good. (I already discussed why there is no such thing as a "convicted pedophile.")

There is a difference between a pedophile and a sex offender. A pedophile can have inclinations but never act on them. By contrast, a sex offender is anyone convicted of any sex crime. While we immediately think "child molester" or "rapist," this category runs the gamut of activity to include even non-sex offenses or offenses marginally sexual at best. We have included teens on the list as young as 10 years old.

Between actual sex offenders, there is a difference between "situational/ regressed" offenders and "fixated/ preferential" offenders. The vast majority of sex offenders are the former type. Situational offenders are less likely to reoffend, not attracted to children, and more likely to respond to treatment. As you can expect, Preferential offenders are more likely to offend, are attracted to children, and are more likely to reoffend.

There is also sexual addiction. You can be a sex addict without being a sex offender or  pedophile. You can be a sex offender without being a sex addict.

The bottom line is the legal term "sex offender" is broad and the term is not mutually exclusive with other terms such as "pedophile" or "sex addict." Committing a solitary sex crime does not necessarily make someone a pedophile or sex addict. That makes comparing a registered citizen to an "alcoholic" comparing apples and oranges.

Alcoholism is a very narrow definition-- addiction to alcoholic beverages. Alcoholism is a persistent condition. You can't be considered an alcoholic by getting drunk one time. However, you can be labeled a sex offender by a one-time event. Sex offender is a legal term, sex addiction and alcoholism are clinical terms. Sex Offenders are a heterogeneous group. Alcoholics are a homogeneous group. Comparing sex offenders to alcoholics is comparing apples and oranges. Sex offenses are not dictated by geography but by relationships. It is indeed a semantic argument, but an important one.

Sex offender laws dictating where a registrant can live, work, or play (and even where to go for counseling) is the result of our faulty assumption that all sex offenders are both "sex addicts" and "pedophiles." While a small number of sex offenders are fixated pedophiles (Montana claims 4% of the prison sex offender population are pedophiles), most on the list are not attracted to children or even addicted to sex.

"You wouldn't put an A.A. next to a bar, so why let a sex offender live/ work/ do anything where there are children?"

It is a rather irrational argument when you think about it. Studies have failed to provide links between geography and sexual offending. Even the comparison to AA at a bar is silly. In an urban area, there are plenty of bars, pony kegs, and beer joints, beer ads are on TV, and grocery stores sell it (unless you are in a "dry" county). So, does AA ever move its services to locations far from civilization? No!

This argument fails miserably because it is based on false assumptions and generalizations. It is time to put this tired argument to rest.


  1. Excellent points; well written. It is truly astonishing the dichotomy between the facts and what most people believe--or choose to believe--in regard to this subject.

  2. Great article Derek. Good analysis.

  3. Vashikaran is a big power and it must be performed through vashikaran specialist.They use differen type of yantra-tantra to solve the different kind of problems of people.