In Puritan America, a married woman’s illicit affair with a minister landed her in jail. After her release, Hester Prynne was sentenced to forever wear a big red “A” on her dress. 

Nearly 375 years later, the U.S. continues to be scandalized, tantalized and perplexed by sex, especially about sex offenders. Tough on crime, we’re still struggling to learn: 

  • Why domestic violence and incest are so under-reported by victims? 
  • Why most people think every sexual offender is a serial rapist? 
  • Why, even among therapists, many continue to believe sex-offenders to be untreatable? 
  • Why supervision after offenders’ release tends to-wards punitive rather than restorative? 

It’s time to bring the subject of sex crime out of the dark ages, time to help victims shed the shame and trauma of their experience. It’s also time to allow offenders an opportunity to show they can change, make amends and start to earn back trust and acceptance from society.

What Ever Happened to Sex Education?

What Ever Happened to Sex Education?

Talking to people about our book, it has become clear that the topic of human sexuality is not very widespread. Remember hearing about it in elementary school? Remember the talk you had with your mother or father? No, well, then you are among the many who have paid the price for a lack of basic education.

This month, Marilyn was invited to speak on a panel to students and faculty at Western Oregon University. It was a standing room only crowd, made up mostly of students of criminal justice, psychology, sociology and communications.

The panelists included Marilyn, who is a pioneer in the treatment of sex offenders. Another panelists was Ken Nolley, a former university professor and the founder of Oregon Voices, a nonprofit organization formed to advocate for the modification of laws pertaining to low risk offenders, especially young adults swept up in any number of crimes that called sex offenses.

The third person was a parole and probation officer from community corrections in the same county where the university is located. She is also the chairperson for the statewide network of sex offender supervisors.

The response to the panel discussion and subsequent questions was very heartening. It pointed us in a direction to further develop a variety of educational seminars and to devote the next year in Oregon to two things: outreach and education.

The outreach will help us determine what the strengths and weaknesses are in each community and county. In some counties there are no sex offender treatment providers. In some counties, they have no housing for sex offenders returning from prison. In fact, some counties drag their heels on providing any services whatsoever, for two reasons. First, many have bigger priorities than how to reintegrate sex offenders. Secondly, some would rather not deal with the issue even if they had the budget to do so.

Nationally, there are nearly 1,000,000 registered sex offenders, with others returning from prison every day. Besides helping them find their way back to productivity (and aiding public safety in the process), we also have a responsibility to address the ongoing crisis of sex abuse. Our educational seminars will address that aspect too; not just how to deal with those already convicted, but also how to prevent new crimes from being committed.

Please comment if you are aware of communities and states where those things are being discussed, and addressed.

Sex Education, A Community Inquiry

Sex Education, A Community Inquiry

Sexual Violence, Mass Murders: Expressions of Disconnection from Self?