Empowering Communities With Knowledge
The Mashpee Police Department is pleased to bring you the following information, reprinted with the permission of Mr. Robert Baker of the Sex Offender Registry Board.
People who commit sexual assaults, whether they have been convicted of these offenses or not, live in our communities! Increasing community safety means knowing that sex offenders reside in the community and understanding how they need to be managed.
Research reveals that most sex offenders are not under correctional supervision. That is, the majority of those individuals who sexually abuse are not identified and processed through the criminal justice system. Rather, they are generally known only by their victims and a few others who elect not to report the offenses. It is important to be just as concerned about the sex offenders we do not know about as those we do.
Sex offenders can never be cured, but with specialized treatment and supervision, some sex offenders can be safely managed in the community.
Most sex offenders who are incarcerated will be released into the community eventually. Therefore, all those involved in the management of these offenders must work together in the effort to make effective and responsible decisions concerning the successful management of sex offenders in the community.
We know that a portion of sex offenders will be under some form of community supervision. It is prudent to assure that appropriate resources are allocated to those agencies.
Research suggests that sex offenders are less likely to re-offend when living in a stable environment. Communities can help by supporting sex offenders' attempts to reintegrate into society by assuring that stable housing and employment are made available.
In order to prevent future victimization, sex offenders must exercise both internal and external control over their behavior. Criminal Justice systems, with the assistance from others in the community, engage in "sex offender management" to ensure that appropriate actions are taken to control offender behavior to the maximum extent possible.
To strengthen the offender's internal control and impose external controls on his behavior, offenders are best managed by multidisciplinary teams that include, at a minimum, supervising parole or probation officers and sex offender specific treatment providers who work together to focus the supervision and treatment plans according to the unique challenges faced and posed by a specific offender. Research and experience indicates that victim and community safety is best achieved when parole and probation officers and treatment providers work with advocates for victims and community members in supervising individual offenders. Thus, collaboration is an important principle in sex offender management.
The community supervision component performed by parole or probation officers constitutes external controls. The supervising officer enforces conditions designed to limit an offender's access to potential victims and his participating in high-risk situations. Judges and the Parole Board must be informed of the need for these external control measures when they make decisions regarding supervisory conditions. Both prosecuting and defense attorneys should be aware of what effective controls are available for use in the management of sex offenders and ensure these are provided to the Court for consideration.
Treatment helps offenders develop internal controls. Sex offender specific treatment helps offenders identify their individual pattern of abuse - the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that precede their offense behavior and teaches them ways they can respond differently to avoid re-offending.
The Sex Offender Registry Board provides registration information to the community and victims, monitors registration compliance, and assists local police departments and other community resources to conduct community education programs.
The community provides yet another set of external controls. Employers, family members, and friends all share in the responsibility of assisting the offender to avoid high-risk situations and potential victims.
Law enforcement agencies play a key role in the surveillance of offender activity. The use of neighborhood watch programs is a valuable resource for law enforcement and integrates the community in sex offender management programs.
Victim advocates ensure that the safety and privacy of known victims and victims' families impact and influence the supervision plan designed for an individual offender.
It is important that all citizens understand the role of sex offender management teams in the community and support their efforts to responsibly manage these offenders.
- Assist criminal justice agencies in monitoring an offender's behavior and actions. This is not to place community members in a supervisory role, but to empower citizens to participate in community safety planning and to support the creation of an environment in which the offender is most likely to succeed without risk of reoffense.
- Use available channels for expressing concerns. If community members have a concern about a particular offender, this information should be brought to the attention of the supervising agency or police immediately. Avoid any attempt to harass or shame a sex offender into compliance as this can have an unintended and negative consequence.
- Understand that the sex offenders will and do live in the community. It is not feasible for every sex offender to be incarcerated for life.
- Understand that safely supervising sex offenders in the community is complex and resource dependent. There is no simple solution to end sexual assault.
- Do not ostracize sex offenders or their families. This can often jeopardize their willingness or ability to comply with the very conditions of supervision that are most likely to reduce their likelihood of reoffense.
- Educate yourself, your family, and friends about the dangers of sexual assault. In order to protect yourself and your loved onces, it is important that you clearly understand who is at risk and how they can best be protected. The Department of Public Health offers a variety of educational programs designed to increase the awareness of the realities of sexual assault.
Members of the community should get actively involved in helping to prevent sexual assault and maintain the safety of their community.
- Don't wait until you are informed that a sex offender is living nearby to take action to reduce your or your family's risk of sexual assault.
- Get involved in educational efforts that seek to stop the behaviors and attitudes that allow sexual assault to occur.
- Talk openly about the reality of sexual assault of adults and children, men, women, boys, and girls.
- Understand the issues involved in sexual assault. Know the facts.
- Don't assume preventing sexual assault is someone else's responsibility.
- Talk to your children about personal safety issues as they relate to child sexual abuse. Do this when you talk about bike safety, crossing the street, or talking to strangers. After all, it is another personal safety rule about which children need to be aware.
- Listen to your children. You can minimize their risk by listening to their questions and concerns and by ensuring an open and communicative family lifestyle where your children know they can come to you if they have questions, fears, and/or concerns. Given that more than 90% of all sexual assaults of children are committed by a person known to the victim, this is extremely important.
- Increase your knowledge about risk reduction measures you can take to protect yourself.
- Know who lives in your neighborhood.
- Organize neighborhood block watches.
- Be aware of the media's ability to draw attention to only certain stories concerning the sexual assault of children and adults. These stories, while real and frightening, are usually not the typical sex offense.
- Invite your local law enforcement, probation/parole department, rape crisis center, child sexual abuse prevention organization, sex offender treatment provider, victim advocate, district attorney office, and sex offender registry representative to a neighborhood discussion group to learn more about this issue and to address the community's fears and concerns.
- Learn the facts about child sexual abuse, adult sexual abuse, offender arrest and incarceration in your community
Children as Victims
- Studies indicate that only 10 - 15% of child sexual abusers ever use physical force or threats to gain compliance from their victims.
- Most child sexual abusers offend against children who they know and with whom they have established a relationship.
- While most sex offenders are male, studies indicate that females commit 20% of all sex offenses committed against children.
- Children rarely make up stories of sexual abuse.
- Children often to not tell about the abuse for a variety of reasons including shame, wanting to protect the offender, embarrassment, fear of being held responsible or being punished, and fear of losing the offender as a family member, friend, guidance figure, etc.
- Sexual gratification is rarely the motivation for the rapist. Power and control are more likely to be the primary motivators.
- Rape victims are never to blame for the assault, regardless of their behavior. Actions that some may think reflect victims' poor judgments, such as being intoxicated or staying out late, are never justifications for being sexually assaulted or abused.
- Rape victims often report being frozen by fear during the assault, causing them to be unable to fight back; other victims may not fight back for fear of angering the rapist and causing him to use more force in the assault.
- Studies suggest that rape victims are 13 times more likely to attempt suicide.
- Studies indicate that women who have been raped before age 18 are twice as likely to be raped again as an adult.
- Offenders are rarely strangers. Department of Justice statistics suggest that more than 90% of all child victims knew the person who sexually assaulted them. These same statistics indicate that more than two-thirds of the victims aged between 18 and 29 years knew their attacker.
- Studies suggest that recidivism rates for sexual offenders range from 13% to 20%, which is seemingly low when compared to other types of criminal behavior. Those sex offenders who do re-offend, do so with greater frequency and a far greater number of victims.
- Studies suggest that most rape offenders are married or in consenting relationships.
- Drugs and alcohol do not cause individuals to offend sexually.
- Being sexually abused does not cause a person to become a sex offender.
To inquire about participating in a Community Awareness presentation contact your local police department or The Sex Offender Registry Board Community Services Unit at (978) 740-6500.
- Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board - (978) 740-6500
- Massachusetts Parole Board - (617) 727-3271
- Office of the Commissioner of Probation - (617) 727-5300
- Department of Public Health - Sexual Assault Prevention and Survivor Services - (617) 624-5457
- Jane Doe Inc: The Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence - (617) 248-0922
- Stop It Now - (413) 268-3096
- Massachusetts Citizens for Children - (617) 742-8555
- Massachusetts Association for Treatment of Sexual Abusers (MATSA) - (508) 650-4800
- National Center for Missing and Exploited Children - (800) THE-LOST (843-5678)
- KlaasKids - (415) 331-6867
- Center for Sex Offender Management - (301) 589-9383
- Community Sex Offender Information