Understanding child sex offenders : implications for the protection of children.
Naidoo, Linda Krishnavani.
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Although largely underreported, the incidence of child sexual abuse (CSA) is increasing in South Africa within a context of engendered violence, inequalities, wider structural, cultural challenges, and the secrecy and myths, which surrounds this endemic social problem. There are two polarities of relevance to child protection in this thesis: the one involves understanding the mind-set and modus operandi of the sex offenders who sexually abuse children and the second involves understanding the entrapment and vulnerability of the victim. Understanding of these polarities has been synthesized to discern their implications for the prevention of child sexual abuse. The current study, which was conducted over three phases, was guided by a qualitative paradigm and set within a framework of critical social work theory. Critical theory focuses on the impact of socio-structural factors and dominant societal discourses on individual and family functioning, the relationship between structure and agency, the need to transcend the micro-macro divide in dealing with major psychosocial issues and the power of praxis. The first phase of the research entailed analysing the characteristics and the life experiences of twelve child sex offenders. In phase two, the testimonies of the child sex offenders were assimilated in the production of a DVD, on the mind-set and strategies adopted in sexually abusing children. In phase three the DVD was screened and various service providers and parents of sexually abused children, reflected on and assessed the lessons associated with understanding the offenders methods in selecting, grooming children, ensuring compliance, non-disclosure, desensitization, maintaining them as victims and avoiding detection. The findings indicate that understanding of the mindset and strategies of the offender has implications for child protection, within a context of altered structural factors, systems and institutions. Further implications and practical recommendations for prevention are provided.