A discursive study of male adolescent sexual offenders in a treatment programme at Childline, KZN.
This discursive study, investigates the role of discourse in the creation of denial and the unconscious in adolescent sexual offenders. It also attempts to illustrate that the denial expressed by the adolescent sexual offenders towards their abuse event, in fact reflects a collective societal dialogic unconscious, as evidenced in legal, social and psychological discourses, towards sexual abuse. The scarcity of local literature in this field and the increasing number of young offenders, provides the motivation for the research. A conversational analysis, as extended by Michael Billig, revealed that the seven adolescent sexual offenders interviewed for this study all oscillated between discourses of denial and acknowledgement. The ideological consequences of an acknowledgement position bear the potential for shame and ostracism from family, peers and the community. The adolescents therefore drew on different and often inconsistent and varying rhetorical resources, in order that they could construct their accounts of the abuse event as morally appropriate, in order to remain on the moral high-ground within the conversational setting of the study. A complex code of absences were also noted in the discourses. These silences frequently contained the abusive event, and created a context in which the discourses of contradiction and disclaiming accounts could function and enabled the adolescents to constructs themselves as morally polite. Finally, I illustrated that the ambiguity and ambivalence expressed by the adolescents, is reflected in a collective denial within society. The accounts presented by the adolescents were a construct of our culture's ambiguous and ambivalent attitude towards violence and sexually abusive events against children and women.