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How can sexual abuse be prevented?
April is a sexual assault awareness and prevention month. Given the high incidence of sexual abuse in modern societies, it is crucial that the public is aware of what sexual abuse is and how we can prevent some of these tragic incidents from happening in the future. This morning we are joined on the line by Kathleen Basile, a Lead Behavioral Scientist at the Division of Violence Prevention at the Center of Disease Control and Prevention.
Radio interview with a Scientist: http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_04_28/73235229/
Interview with Wenzel Michalski, Director of Human Rights Watch Office in Germany.
Alleged scandals in Penn State, Syracuse and even Mount Pleasant in South Carolina have brought sexual abuse into the light. While the betrayal of a coach and his players are alarming, the victims aren’t just limited to athletics. Since 1980, the number of reported cases of abuse has dramatically increased. According to a 2009 study published in Clinical Psychology Review, the global prevalence of child sexual abuse has been estimate to be at 19.7% for females and 7.8% for males. Linda Johnson, Executive Director at Prevent Child Abuse, Vermont, talks about this phenomenon, the warning signs and its impact.
SU coach assistant fired over sexual harassment scandal
A string of sexual abuse allegations involving college coaches have popped up throughout the country, the latest incident being at the Syracuse University. Over the weekend, longtime Syracuse men’s basketball coach assistant Bernie Fine was fired after a third man accused the coach of sexually abusing him as a teenager. Fine had been on administrative leave since two former Syracuse ball boys went public November 17 on ESPN with their accusations that the longtime coach had sexually abused them in the 1980s and 1990s. Fine had responded by calling the accusations “patently false.” Jim Baumbach,a sports reporter for Newsday, and Michael McCann, President of the Sports Law Institute and Professor at University of Vermont School of Law, talk about the incident.
By Emily Bazelon|Posted Wednesday, May 16, 2012, at 4:51 PM ET
Maricopa County Jail.
When male teachers sext or have sex with their students, nobody laughs. When female teachers do this, the titters don’t stop. Fictional examples:Skins, Big Love, and many more. Real-life example: this wink-wink blog post about Gabriela Compton, a 21-year-old (former) middle-school teacher’s aide in Phoenix, Ariz. Compton sent a 14-year-old boy at her school a picture of herself topless. He sexted back a photo of a penis he’d found on the Internet. A few sexts later, Compton found herself accused of having sex with the boy in the back of her van. A 13-year-old went to the police and said he’d sexted with Compton, too, and she reportedly admitted to that and the sex, too. She was charged with three counts of sexual abuse, three counts of sexual abuse with a minor, and one other related count. Altogether the charges carried a maximum sentence of 39 years in prison. In March, she pled guilty to the sexual abuse counts—and got a sentence of lifetime probation. She’ll have to register as a sex offender, but she won’t go to prison.
As law professor and sentencing guru Doug Berman points out, it is not really possible to imagine a male teacher getting off so lightly for having sex with a 14-year-old girl. Is Compton’s light sentence typical? Can it be justified?
The answer to the first question is mostly no: Compton’s wrist slap is in important ways an outlier. My colleague Will Saletan has been here before me. A teacher named Beth Geisel pled guilty to molesting a student in 2006, prompting CNN’s Nancy Grace to ask: “Why is it, when a man rapes a little girl, he goes to jail, which I’m all for, by the way, but when a woman rapes a boy, she had a breakdown?” Saletan pointed out a 1991 study that found little difference in the likelihood that male and female sex offenders would go to prison. And he updated the numbers with his own informal survey of 37 inmates who’d recently been sentenced. What was different was how long they would remain incarcerated: Will found that the men were in prison for an average of 11 years, while the women were there for less than two. But the women were also far less likely to have molested multiple children or to have molested kids under the age of 16. That is where Compton is in unusual and unfortunate territory. Since she was accused of having sex with a 14-year-old and sexting him and a 13-year-old, she’s not a Notes on a Scandal gal having sex with an older teen. She was doing something ickier.
The women who perpetrate this misconduct not surprisingly have serious problems. Like the men, they have poor coping skills and trouble showing empathy. This report by the Center for Sex Offender Management breaks female sex offenders into three types, based on clinical observations. The first group were coerced by men into abusing children, even their own. The second were themselves victims of incest or other sexual abuse—this kind of history is far more likely for women sex offenders than for men, and the women in this category also tend to victimize young children in their own families. The third type, labeled “teacher/lover,” sounds more like Gabriela Compton. They were “often struggling with peer relationships, seemed to regress and perceive themselves as having romantic or sexually mentoring ‘relationships’ with under-aged adolescent victims of their sexual preference, and, therefore, did not consider their acts to be criminal in nature.”
All the joking assumes that 13- and 14-year-old boys just want to have sex, but the law provides that it is in fact criminal behavior for an adult, male or female. Saletan haswritten about how the age of consent varies by time and place. The research on the cognitive ability and psychosocial maturity of teenagers shows (not surprisingly) that both tend to rise as they get older. Did the student who sent Compton Internet photos of a penis understand what he was getting into? What about the 13-year-old who went to the cops—does that suggest that something was off here, and that it makes sense to view the pairing of a young teenager and an adult as a crime, no matter who is which gender?
I’d rather the law err on the side of caution and uniformity here. And I can’t really get my mind around probation for a woman who was facing nearly four decades in prison, even if it is probation for life that includes sex-offender registration. Thirteen-year-old boys should be shielded from predatory adults the same way girls are. If they don’t think they want the shield, well, maybe they don’t know what’s good for them.
Male guards at Alabama women’s prison sexually abused inmates
A nonprofit group has filed a formal complaint with the Justice Department claiming that male guards at an Alabama prison for women have sexually abused inmates.
The Equal Justice Initiative investigated incidents that occurred between 2009 and 2011 at the Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Alabama. The nonprofit group stated that the abuse included rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment of female prisoners. It also said that several cases resulted in pregnancy.
Unfortunately this is not the first time correctional officers have sexually assaulted inmates in Tutwiler prison. According to the Equal Justice Initiative, a 2007 federal report ranked Tutwiler number one among women's prisons based on the number of sexual assaults and 11th among all 146 prisons studied. In the past five years, more that 20 prison employees have been transferred or fired because of alleged sexual contact with inmates, and six correctional officers were convicted of sexual abuse of prisoners from just the period of 2009 to 2011, The Birmingham News reports. In addition, the report states that prison staff and administration punish women who report sexual misconduct.