Op-Ed: Convicted Sex offenders -- free to re-offend

How do you protect yourself and your family from a convicted sex offender who is on probation?

In a Samoan family the adults decide whether to forgive and love and trust again the family member who was convicted.  Attitudes vary from forgiveness (with promises to never re-offend on the part of the convicted person)... to ' he has done his time' ...to 'eh! It’s a generational family sickness'... or 'don’t worry we will keep an eye on him' or even 'Marrying the impregnated minor he raped will solve the social issues'.

We can forgive and believe all we want, but no one can see into the heart or mind of the offender. All we see is a penitent, sincere and lovable person that goes out of his/her way to be kind, useful, considerate and humble.

What's amusing — and alarming — is that these were the very same characteristics that disarmed parents while he lured, groomed and attracted children and young people to become victims.

A family who is alert and watchful would have to initiate a lot of prevention and policing techniques. They would have to be very protective over any young female (or male) that is brought into the family either as a visitor or for domestic purposes. They must monitor the offender’s behaviors to include the accompaniment of any minor with him. Informing the minors to avoid any personal or private contact, by explaining why.

Young people must be taught to report anything — any behavior — that makes them uncomfortable. Domestic young women are just as vulnerable and helpless as children. Because the sponsor holds the key to her livelihood or future, it pays to remain silent and to submit.

In a Samoan household, everyone, especially minors are under scrutiny or watchful eyes of a predator looking for opportunity. Being scrutinized by half closed hidden and watchful eyes, a pedophile can follow any child as they perform their chores, serve or go to their rooms.

There is no way a child or predator can be under observation for 24hrs. Who watches the children when the adults are asleep, taking a shower, stepping out for a few minutes etc?

After a while, families are lulled back into false sense of security, trust and confidence for the offender. It is the same false sense that gave the offender the initial opportunity to exploit the victim before he was caught and it was too late.

Families of sexually abused children are more likely than not to forgive and show mercy to the offender that cries for mercy. Unfortunately there is no such emotion in a predator or pedophile. There is no love, compassion or guilt. According to well known psychologists, there is no cure for pedophilia. There is an 80% chance of recidivism. In other words, they will do it again, given the opportunity.

When a pedophile or offender repeats the offense and is caught, it is just as likely that he has a string of victims already tucked under his belt while on probation.

How can we empower citizens to make informed decisions regarding personal and family safety, when courts most likely will place the victim in a shelter and allow the sole breadwinner/offender out on bail or probation?

The answer to that question is that there is something which can be made available to us called “Megan’s Law”.

Megan's Law requires that certain information about sex offenders be made available to members of the public upon request.

It is done so that the public is better prepared to protect themselves and their children.

Sacrificing a child by removing her from her family and locking up for her own safety is as criminal as allowing the criminal the freedom to keep re-offending as long as he is not caught.

Because of the Samoan family structure in dealing with fa'alavelaves (weddings, funerals, celebrations, visiting guests) hosting families will find themselves entertaining or giving gifts to a well known sex offender who plays the role of orator or who carries a High Chief or High Talking Chief title from the visiting guests.

Breach of etiquette would prevent the host from retaliating or repelling the offender.

What saddened me was when a very high official shared with me, the reason he kept a sex offender on payroll, was because he was an excellent talking chief and popular for his command and articulation of the Samoan language of chiefs and gods.

In other words, as a private instructor, the offenders gift as an orator to impress the masses is more valuable than any child victim.

Another high official informed me during a casual conversation, his adult daughter will never be subjected to domestic or sexual violence because she was born holding a privileged status.

The new word for statutory rape is consensual sex. How can it absolve the adult when it is against the law to have sex with a minor?

It is time we get over the denial phase and look into a new solution for repeat sex offenders. One thing that can be done is called Sentence Enhancement, which refers to additional and heavier sentencing for subsequent offenses for sex crimes.

One repeat sex offender has surfaced only because he was caught. On our little island we can pretty well expect the next surge of repeat offenders to resurface. Stay alert and observant. Do not hesitate to report or turn them in to the proper authorities.

Protecting our children is our profound moral responsibility.


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