I really didn’t want to watch the Stephen Collins interview with Katie Couric but my wife wanted to so it was inevitable.  As parents we look at the issue of sex offenders somewhat differently.  She would simply have all pedophiles executed.  It’s pretty straight forward, gets rid of the current problem and sends a message.  It’s also not going to happen.  While having a similar initial reaction I know that this is a problem of society that you can’t simply weed out the offenders.  You have to find a way to deal with them.  Almost every day I see cases of children that are sexually abused as well as children who sexually abuse others.  In some respects they are different sides of the same coin.  And since you can’t have a coin with only one side, you have to have a strategy for both.

The Interview

For those of you who didn’t watch it, he basically confesses to molesting and exposing himself to 3 young girls in the 70s and 80s.  Once I got past wanting to throw up, I realized that this is the first time I’ve seen someone do this.  Remorse is generally not a characteristic of child sex offenders.  He also didn’t wait for the villagers to gather their torches and pitchforks.  There doesn’t seem to be any legal actions in the works and it seemed he just wanted to apologize regardless of the personal cost to himself.  Maybe this gets him a better seat in hell.  I hope it actually does more.

I need help

These three words can be used by gamblers, drug addicts, people with anger issues, alcoholics, PTSD sufferers, and people in bankruptcy to name a few.   There are no options for sex offenders or potential sex offenders to self identify that they can’t stop what they are doing or what they are thinking.  All of us who have dealt with an offender in our lives wish someone could have stopped them before they did what they did.  From the interview, Stephen recognized his problem and has been getting therapy for years.  I give him credit for that, but unfortunately it’s something that still has to happen in private.  There is no community support for people who offend sexually.

At my uncle’s funeral a numerous people stood up to speak that he had sponsored in AA.  Even years later I will run into people who will start a conversation with how my uncle helped them get sober.  There is no shame and people recognize alcoholism for the disease it is.   The jury is still out on whether pedophilia is a clinical diagnosis, a crime or both.   Just look at some of the clinical discussions online regarding the changes between the DSM4 and DSM5 classifications to see the confusion.

It’s hard to imagine a world where people openly say things like “I haven’t touched a child in over 30 years”.  That’s essentially what Stephen Collins did in his interview.    It seems strange and absurd now, but I suspect that reaching a point where others can do the same may b e important to bringing sexual abuse out into the open and allowing some degree of closure for victims and offenders alike.