Having worked in the child sexual abuse field for 30 some years, I am continually struck with a sense of sadness when yet another family comes forward with admissions of sibling sexual abuse. Rather than judgment it is important to be aware of treatment and healing options. Jumping to quick labeling without understanding the help needed is dangerous. Child Molester! Hang Em! Life Over! That’s missing the point. Remember people are human and in sibling incest cases they are family and usually love each other. They are also children or teens.
Thankfully, the field of child sexual abuse has come a long way and treatment protocols have been established. Many families have worked through the sequential treatment protocol and have been reunited and this can be very successful if followed. The key factor is gaining trained professionals who work together as a team to help each family member through the process. Here’s the sequence:
The true beauty of this protocol is professionals working together as a team for the family. The professionals typically stay in touch with proper releases from the family so they can monitor the progress of each member. Often if this protocol is followed the young offender will be given a deferred prosecution and if successful in treatment the charges are dropped. It is truly a therapeutic and healing journey for the family rather than one that involves the courts and punishment.
In my practice, I have also worked extensively with young children, under the age of 10 who are sexually acting out. Often they have been abused themselves. They can be treated and the sexual impulses can be stopped at a very early age. Each state may be somewhat different in their guidelines for what age a child can be charged for sexual misconduct. In Colorado a child can actually be charged at the young age of 10. If under the age of 10, children are sent to professionals who specialize in treating children who sexually act out. If over the age of 10, the family is encouraged to follow the above procedures.
Because there is a better way than judgment or denial and I have seen so many families successfully complete this healing journey and reunite, I submit this blog post to hopefully reach out to other families who are suffering and to those who don’t understand that healing can happen with the proper therapeutic interventions.
The following statistics are offered here and were gathered from the Darkness to Light website about young offenders. Please see their website link below:
FACT: As many as 40% of children who are sexually abused are abused by older, or more powerful children.
FACT: Most adolescent sex offenders are not sexual predators and will not go on to become adult offenders.
Adolescent sex offenders are more responsive to treatment than adults. They do not appear to continue to re-offend into adulthood, especially when provided with appropriate treatment.
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