The problem of making rational choices concerning sexual crimes.
Photo by Remy Gieling on Unsplash
There is a great deal of room for debate concerning punishment and treatment of sexual offenders. This debate is fueled in a large part by emotionalism which statistically appears to drive policy for punishing sexual offenders. This support is a salient point because it ignores the outcomes for these individuals which may be the reason that recidivism is high in this population. A large percentage of the population, 48% is unwilling to support sex offender rehabilitation through taxes (Mears, Mancini, Gertz, & Bratton, 2008). The problem in this arena is that there appears to be a large problem with making rational choices concerning sexual crimes in general.
The problem of irrational policy making extends into the prostitution. Most of the prostitutes and women who are trafficked are victims of child sexual abuse.
These clients are sometimes referred to as victims of commercial sexual exploitation (CSE) or as domestic minor victims of human trafficking. One disturbing reality is that many of these victims have been in our systems before as victims of child abuse, domestic violence, or sexual assault. Their current victimization, being sold for sex, is considered the most profitable organized crime enterprise after drug and weapons trafficking (Kalergis, 2009).
The policy of punishing sex offenders rather than treating them is creating a cycle where individuals become trapped in this world of exploitation because there are few social programs aimed at curbing the problem. According to Kalergis (2009), while there is a strong focus on punishment of sex trafficking, “there is still a dearth of appropriate services for survivors.” As a result of this problem, the victims are often left to fend for themselves with few resources for treatment as children and this lack of resource continues as the victims often find themselves dependent on pimps and traffickers for money and a place to live. For these victims, sexual exploitation:
…is not just a pattern, but a continuum, of never getting a break, not having an opportunity to get out. All the things she needs she’s never gotten — a mentor, a job, emotional support, and therapy for what happened to her (Kalergis, 2009).
These problems are systemic of system of policy making which seeks to satisfy emotional outrage and public sentiment rather than seeing a social issue. The reality that is overlooked in sexual crimes, trafficking, and child pornography is that these crimes are often self-perpetuating in which the victims become locked into cycles of abuse or worse yet become the abusers. This is a problem that is rooted in emotionalism that is fueled by misconceptions and narrow media focus. For example, most people think of prostitution as a choice and media reflects this idea in the way that these individuals are characterized in TV and movies. The reality is that most of these victims have been forced into this lifestyle and occupation.
Traffickers may have isolated children from their parents, using control, violence, coercion, narcotics, and social isolation to force children into debt bondage, involuntary servitude and commercial sexual exploitation (Fong & Cardoso, 2008).
As a result of this misunderstood problem, there are few social programs and even fewer resources for adults attempting to escape exploitation. A more effective method of dealing with sexual crimes would be to handle these issues from a social work perspective in which these populations are provided programs for counseling and monetary support. One of the largest reasons that the victims become trapped in the cycle of abuse is due to the fact that they often have no money and cannot afford desperately needed services. They are typically lacking mental health care which they need desperately for the abuse they have suffered. This coupled with the fact that they have no resources such as job training and financial assistance forces them to continue working the streets or being commercially exploited by pimps or organized crime groups such as gangs. This problem continues because there is a pervasive thinking that punishment will solve the issue or that once a sexual criminal is caught that this punishment ends the cycle of abuse for his or her victims.
Fong, R., & Cardoso, J. B. (2008, December 16). Child human trafficking victims: Challenges for the child welfare system. Evaluation and Program Planning.
Kalergis, K. I. (2009, August). A Passionate Practice Addressing the Needs of Commercially Sexually Exploited Teenagers. Journal of Women and Social Work, 24(3).
Mears, D. P., Mancini, C., Gertz, M., & Bratton, J. (2008, February 29). Sex Crimes, Children, and Pornography: Public Views and Public Policy. Crime and Delinquency, 54(532).
Vincent Triola. Fri, Jan 15, 2021. Pornography, Prostitution, & Trafficking Retrieved from https://vincenttriola.com/blogs/ten-years-of-academic-writing/pornography-prostitution-trafficking