TED Conversations

Robert Winner

TEDCRED 100+

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Housing sex offenders

The latest "cause craze" is that the states are not doing enough to find housing for sex offenders.

There are areas that sex offenders cannot live and they cannot live within 1000 feet of a school. As they must register and file a address this presents a problem for those who cannot find a place to live. Some claim a intersection as their home of record and live the homeless life. Some groups are demanding that the states develop a system for housing convicted sex offenders.

Is this the responsibility of a state?

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    Dec 12 2012: It is the moral responsibility of the advertising industry, the media and the publishers of teenage magazines to reappraise how they portay young girls as sex objects and the idea that physicality (rather than personality), is the overriding factor in sexual attraction.

    Males are naturally sexually attracted to females of child-bearing age - something that is down to biology, and not necessarily something that can be legislated against.

    What has gone seriously wrong, is that these men's peceptions of a girl's child-bearing age has been lowered by the media they choose to be influenced by, to pre-pubescent levels.

    Any state intervention should initially be directed towards a media, whose ethics have gone grotesquely out-of-control in this and many other ways.
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      Dec 12 2012: There is an interesting related dichotomy of the age at which western women do actually reproduce (Later) and the age at which they go through puberty (Earlier). I don't think society is coping well with the change from puberty at 16 married at 20 children at 22 to puberty at 12 married at 28 children at 35. The old fashioned rolls that the media try to put women into don't fit anymore.In the media you see children and then teens and then mothers, they seem to have missed the 18 to 30 age group who to a large extent are having careers and being single or if not single have no real intention of getting married and having kids any time soon.
    • Dec 12 2012: Allan, if advertisement was the culprit then why do so many boys get abused? And I don't know where you live but I've never seen an advertisement that portrayed pre-pubescent girls as sex objects.
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        Dec 13 2012: John, you don't have to look far to see adverts portraying young girls as sexual grown-up women.

        There's no getting away from the fact that youth sells products. Add sex to that equation and its potency as a marketing strategy is enormous, for products like high fashion clothing, perfume and jewellery. These adverts are ubiquitous and there is no getting away from them.

        'Subliminal messaging' is the lifeblood of advertising and that, along with the profit motive, is enough to have the effect of distorting moral standards, one's body image, causing eating disorders, depression... the list goes on. What price a young person's right to childhood?

        Peter's point: "The old fashioned roles that the media try to put women into don't fit anymore.In the media you see children and then teens and then mothers, they seem to have missed the 18 to 30 age group..." is important. Growing up has speeded up to the point where crucial chunks of development get missed out.

        My point is that the barely controlled urges of a sex offender is made worse by this sudden apparent jump from teen to adulthood in young girls, and I question the role of the media and advertising, seemingly creating such a distorted view of 'normality' in order to achieve commercial ends.
        • Dec 13 2012: "John, you don't have to look far to see adverts portraying young girls as sexual grown-up women."

          I live in the most liberal society in the world (Netherlands) and I have never seen that. Pre-pubescent models are always depicted as children, teenage fashion models are shown in fashion advertisements geared towards women, that are not attractive to men at all (fashion is a means for women to achieve social dominance over other women, not a means to seduce men), and lingerie models are always at least 18 years old. And again, I must stress advertisements of young girls could never explain why so many boys are abused, nor could they explain why widespread child abuse goes back a long way in history.
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        Dec 13 2012: I can't say for sure what the ages are of some models (and neither, I suspect, can you).

        If they are the adults you say they are, then many are made to look a lot younger than their actual age. Surely you see that, don't you?

        You say: "Pre-pubescent models are always depicted as children, teenage fashion models are shown in fashion advertisements geared towards women, that are not attractive to men at all (fashion is a means for women to achieve social dominance over other women, not a means to seduce men)".

        You don't know what goes on in the mind of a sex offender any more than I do. Also, how do you know that teenage fashion models are not attractive to oversexed older men - those who might go on to offend?

        I can only guess why boys are abused. Again it is probably the allure of youth in establishments that are predominantly male (such as boarding schools and prisons) and where gender likely becomes immaterial when overridden by raw urges.

        There is no getting away from the fact that youthfulness is desirable. People endure extreme surgery or go on ridiculous diets to achieve it. If youth is such a powerful holy grail to strive for, for people who are past it, then it is not too outrageous a statement to say that this kind of dysfunction could manifest in other forms - such as pedophilia.

        My disclaimer is that these are just thoughts based on observation, not necessarily verifiable through evidence. If you have evidence to refute, then I would like to see it.
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    Gail . 50+

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    Dec 9 2012: It would be far less expensive if male sex offenders were castrated and then temporarily jailed until their testosterone levels were gone, hence their sex drive. (Occasional blood tests could be required to prove that no self-medicating hormones are being taken). I don't know of a ready treatment for the few but real female sex offenders.
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      Dec 9 2012: It would be even cheaper to summarily execute them.

      Or we could, you know, put forth some modicum of effort to rehabilitate them.
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        Dec 10 2012: According to a study done at Harvard, the equivalent of castration (drugs to block the hormones) is, in conjunction with therapy, the only treatment known, but even then recidivism rates range from 35-50%. No one knows how high it is if the perpetrator refuses therapy or treatment.

        Bottom line, there is no "rehabilitation" known to us at this time. My suggestion merely accomplishes the the same effect as current treatment. Pedophiles are now chemically castrated - meaning that they take pills to block the hormones. Castration leaves no option to forget to take a pill.

        Castration does not deny the ability to have sex. It reduces the impulse (obsession) so that pedophilia is more manageable and it gives the perpetrator time to consider other ways to deal with impulses.

        It is not adequately successful, because, like a serial killer, once you have crossed the line from fantasizing to acting out, there seems to be no way to retrace those steps at present. There IS more than a modicum of effort put to helping those who choose to be helped. There are too many who do not choose to be helped.

        Not being a pedophile or a man, I can't say whether a person convicted of pedophilia or incest with a minor would choose castration over long-term imprisonment. Seeing as pedophilia increases with age, doesn't jailing them until they are older seem contradictory?
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          Dec 11 2012: Jail won't work, as the overall recidivism rate is nearly 70% at three years after initial release, according to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics; compare that to other developed countries, and it becomes apparent that we are less than perfect. Unfortunately, you are correct about the lack of effective rehabilitation, yet those same statistics suggest that current rehab efforts are insufficient. Even ignoring any moral implications of forcibly castrating offenders, it cannot change their psychology, and as such a major component of the problem ends up being ignored. That paper admits that "Outcomes are better when treatment combines psychotherapy and medication." (i.e. "chemical castration"), which is more or less my point; that there need to be greater efforts toward rehabilitation, since we seem to be so deficient at it.
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      Dec 10 2012: The vast majority of violent sex offenders aren't motivated by sex drive. They are motivated by an urge to dominate physically.
  • Dec 9 2012: Lets face it, the only reason for the state to limit ex-convicts liberty is because the state fears they would commit the same crime again, and that is obviously because the state itself know and recognizes, it doesn't have the knowledge, means and/or interest to turn criminals into honest, decent citizens, so, since these measures are taken by the state because it was unable to do a good job, it is the state's responsibility to provide housing for sex offenders. It's like when you hire a plumber and that plumber does a poor job and your furniture gets wet, it is the responsibility of the plumber to repair all collateral damage.

    Jails are "Crime Universities" and that is because the judicial system is built upon wrong goals. The main goal of justice should not be to punish, like it is (shamefully) now in almost any modern society. True justice has 2 main goals: (1) to repair the damage whenever possible as soon as possible and at the greatest extent possible, and (2) to turn the criminal into a honest, decent citizen as effectively as possible and as efficiently as possible, criminals sent jail should be only those that have no hope of being successfully reinserted in society, obviously in this model jail is always for life time. There are many lessons to be learned from ancient societies, those whom "civilized world" call "savages".
  • Dec 9 2012: "Is this the responsibility of a state?"

    Kinda, I mean if your laws state you have to live so many meters from schools and such then there has to be a place to live that suits those requirements, otherwise a state might as well demand people pay 110% of their income in taxes or that only people age 3195 and over can get a driver's license. Some politicians really need a dose of reality and lay off the "tough guy" image. Btw, why aren't convicted murderers required by law to live far away from any other human?
    • Dec 9 2012: OOOh, OOOH, that is great! We could do an escape from New York thing with the murderers. Gotta televise it too, that would be awesome.
      • Dec 11 2012: I asked because I'm curious why American society sees sex offenders as a bigger threat than murderers, or at least it seems that way when there are housing regulations for sex offenders but for murderers.
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    Dec 17 2012: i believe that sexual abuse towards male and female children has been here since ancient Greece and Zeus with his child lover. Yet I did research on child sexuality and THERE IS MUCH CONFLICTING opinions on if children are sexual,whether they desire adult intervention and is it good for them...controversy!!!.!...so academics have no group opinion,obviously porn dosent,nor advertising,nor halloween,with its countless sexy school girls....I would like to say that in fact we say no sex with children....but who clearly states why. Saying NO is not the basis for this action...so what is? I beleive it is that child adult relations are full of adult perceptions of dominance,control,orgasm,ownership,and devoid of conditions for rights in the relationship..children are sexual in a completely different way and will become damage at premature exposure to our heavyily laden sex world...
  • Dec 10 2012: It should not be the responsabilty of the state. However, in recent years municipalities have zoned out sex offenders limiting where they can and can't live. Like many ex convicts, life after prison is an uphill battle. Sex offenders also have to deal with towns legally telling them where they can and can't live

    If the government can butt in and limit where they can and can't live, they themselves are saying that they should have a hand in these matters.

    It's a big, ugly can of worms that nobody knows how to deal with.
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    Dec 10 2012: It seems like a simple choice a) The state organises appropriate accomodation for sex offenders or b) We let known sex offenders disappear into the world of the homeless where they will be desperate for money and food.
    I think I choose a)
  • Dec 9 2012: The state tells them they can't live certain places, so they better tell them where they can live. I saw a town in Florida where there was only one little tent camp area where these people could live because everywhere else is near a school, Church, daycare, nursing home etc. If you tell them they can't live anywhere, what are they supposed to do? And I know a lot of people are going to say they should just die etc. Funny those are the people not wanting them near a Church. Nice compassion.
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      Dec 10 2012: I also saw the clip on Miami Tent City. It was part of the article that inspired this conversation. Yes they established a tent city but that was a option as they had plenty of other options. There is a map available of where offenders live in Dade County. As I recall the story stated it was either this camp or a trailer park ran by a offender. That make a great story in the paper and will bring some people to the cause ... but not true. When they report in to their probation officer they give a address ... in some state this address must be approved prior to release. They are also provided with options through counsellors prior to release.

      These people know the rules and requirements. As a former prison employee I can assure you all of this documentation exists in the offenders prison records. Further documentation is also in the probation package.

      The media also knows the rules for a offender but that would not make for a good story.
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    Dec 9 2012: It is a moot point when the country starts going under that will not be a consideration.

    I do find it ironic that TED Lover is staunchly in favor of pro choice yet thinks it is fine for the state to castrate someone.
  • Dec 9 2012: Seems like there should be some distinction between those with adult victims, and those with child victims for the school related penalty. I think another facet to this is the decision to make the record public to protect the public at the expense of the the perpetrator, even after they have served their time. As you point out, this stigma will prevent the rehabilitated from successfully integrating back into society. I think I would tie the responsibility of providing a place to live with the decision to making a record public.