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References:

1. Burton, D. & Smith-Darden, J., North American Survey of Sexual Abuser Treatment and Models 2000, Brandon, VT: Safer Society Foundation, 2001.

2. Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, The Sex Offender Treatment Provider Directory For Maryland, Baltimore, 2003.

3. Okami, P., 'Child Perpetrators of Sexual Abuse': The Emergence of a Problematic Deviant Category, Journal of Sex Research, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 209-130, 1992.

4.  Zimring, F.E., An American Travesty:  Legal Responses to Adolescent Sexual Offending, Chicago:  University of Chicago Press, 2004.


Ethical Treatment for All Youth
www.ethicaltreatment.org
Email: etay@ethicaltreatment.org

About the author

DIAGNOSIS

The emergence of a new illness

In the 1980s, a group of social workers believed that day care centers across America were ritually sexually abusing children in horrifying numbers, and sought to expose this terrible evil. However, legal experts and psychological scientists eventually discovered that these social workers used suggestive and coercive questioning methods on children which led to false accusations. One of the leading interviewers, along with a colleague, also came to believe that large numbers of children were sexually deviant. They began writing articles and speaking to professional groups, and quickly became recognized as experts, in spite of the objections of sexuality researchers who noted that there was no scientific basis for their approach, and that many behaviors they classified as abnormal were common.3 Their beliefs spread, and quickly-devised treatment programs sprang up across the U.S.

According to a survey conducted in 2000, there are at least 66 programs in the U.S. for deviant prepubescent children, and 291 for deviant adolescents.1 There may be far more than that; just one state's directory of such programs lists 16 for prepubescent children and 29 for adolescents.2

These treatment providers do not constitute a typical group of mainstream mental health professionals.  In fact, UC Berkeley law professor and juvenile justice expert Franklin Zimring writes the following about one extremely influential group:

This vocal and well-organized network of treatment units for juvenile sex offenders is not a standard group of mental health professionals by any means...Part mental health treatment group, part victim advocacy organization, part social movement to take power away from judges and police in the name of therapeutic control of juvenile sex offenders, the individuals and organizations that coalesced to form the National Adolescent Perpetrator Network represent an offense-specific treatment movement without precedent in American juvenile justice.4

So how do such treatment providers identify children or adolescents as sexually deviant? Researchers have pointed out that their methods of diagnosis suffer from several flaws:

Continue to Lack of Knowledge


Understanding the Issue


When experts are wrong
Casualties of war
Diagnosis
   Lack of knowledge
   Confused definitions
   Criminalization
   Invalid instruments
Treatment
   Humiliation as therapy
   Arousal reconditioning
   Dangerous drugs
   Sriking comparisons
   Sample materials
   Convos with providers
Ethical violations
Deja vu