Monday, October 21, 2013

High-Profile Cases in Congress and the Church (Part Eight)

Sipe's research also reports that 2 percent of the priest population can be classified as true pedophiles, with a three-to-one preference for boys. Four percent of the priest population sexually offends adolescents. Gender preference is distributed more evenly in this group.

With the onslaught of reports of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, it is my hope that the church will examine the role its culture plays in a priest's sexual maturity. Hopefully, the church will question how it might grow and enhance the well-being and health of not only the individual, but the institution as a whole.

It is important to note that sexual abuse is not limited to Catholic priests or politicians. I have used these cases as examples because of the recent play that have received in the popular media. These incidents serve as a springboard for exploring the larger issues of sexual offending and treatment. Sexual abuse always has and probably always will cross all political, economic, gender, sexual orientation, social, intellectual, religious, racial, and ethic lines.

Terminology and Treatment

In terms of treatment, the word "offending" can be defined in two ways: linguistically and legally. As we have already explored, it means to violate boundaries -- physically, emotionally, sexually, or spiritually. For the addict, boundary violation is often done to increase the high or to test limits; he is provocative by making sexually suggestive overtures, or she attempts to shock by telling lewd or embarrassing jokes.

In legal terms, sexual offense is the violation of a law. Offending behavior that breaks a law always falls into both categories: a boundary violation and a legal offense.

The laws of their consequences or legal judgments vary from state to state. Treatment also varies, given the type of offense and the history of an individual's behavior. When assessing patients who have acted out in legal terms, I want to explore their histories of acting out. Was there a progression to the behavior, and did it follow the cycle of addiction? I also compare their behaviors against a continuum. These behaviors exist on three levels, which are defined by both social and legal parameters.  

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