Should the Sex Offender Be Invited? Part II

Dear Engaged Bystander, Clearly there is a lot to say here.

First, we don't know enough (yet) to make a sensible decision. While it is true that most sex offenders do not reoffend, we don't know the risk for this particular man. Not all sex offenders are the same so these generalities can be helpful in creating policies, but they are not very helpful in make individual decisions. Before making a decision, I would want to talk with him directly. About ten years ago, I wrote a booklet called "Let's Talk" about how to talk with someone who might be at risk to abuse. It offers a framework for how to have this difficult conversation. In this case, I would want to let him know I am talking with him directly so that together, we can make the best decision possible. To do that, I would want to know:

  • what crime he committed,
  • whether he is a level 3 (high risk) classification,
  • if he has been in treatment and if yes, what he learned through treatment. -- what he knows will help keep him safe

I would also want to hear what he had to suggest, what he would want, and whether this was a safe place for HIM to be. For example, if his crime was against children, it might make sense to have this be an "adult only" event. And it might make sense for him to come with a "buddy" - someone or even a group of people who knows about his crime and will be sure that he stays in safe environments throughout the event. There are policies that can be helpful to look at for other suggestions such as the policy put together by the Unitarian Universalist Association called Balancing Acts.

There is much more that can be done to create safety plans and truly explore this situation. But the bottom line is that I totally disagree with the premise that "it is often best to just do nothing". When it comes to sexual violence, that is rarely, if ever true.


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Submitted by jtabachnick on

Thanks so much for your comment too. I would love to hear what your friends said on facebook if you care to share that! warmly, joan