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Commentary

Critical Teaching in a Sex Crimes Course

[medium.com/@zilneyl/ – 7/5/20]

It is often said that the media doesn’t tell us what to think; the media tells us what to think about. The media frames our understanding of public issues and informs us which public issues should be at the forefront of our minds.

For 8 years I have taught a college course entitled Sex Crimes. The course uses history and theory to critically examine sex crime laws and sexual offending behavior. In the course, I aim to provide an in-depth examination of the causes and responses to sexual offending and engage students with a non-stereotypical view of offenders as well as an understanding of the many legal controls with which individuals must comply.

Each semester teaching this course, I struggle with the extreme views that students have of individuals who commit a sexual offense: the individual is a pervert, a monster, a stranger waiting to kidnap and rape a child. Students remark that individuals who commit a sex offense are sick and cannot be cured, deserve to be castrated or executed, and should be locked away forever.

What students don’t realize at the start of the semester is that a sex offender in the eyes of the law can be someone who urinated in public in a school zone, a 21-year-old who had sexual relations with his 15-year-old girlfriend whom he later married, an individual caught viewing online child pornography, an individual conversing in a chat room with someone who they think is a minor but is actually a cop, or an individual that kidnapped and raped a child (to name only a few). These are extremely varied acts in their impact, but they all fall under the umbrella term sex offender.

As the American criminal justice system continues to strengthen laws against individuals who have committed a sexual offense, it is important to understand how attitudes toward controversial criminological topics can be altered based on scientific understanding rather than a media frenzy.

So, what do I convey to students to help them understand the nuances of sexual offending in America?

 

It Starts with Language

Society refers to those who have committed a sex offense as a sexual offender as if that person is always an offender. If you played sports in college, are you considered an athlete still at 50? If you stole a candy bar from a convenience store as a child, do you remain a thief forever? If you cheated on one of your partners, are you an adulterer for life?

Read the full article

 

Join the discussion

  1. Joe123

    A phenomenal post on the Medium platform

  2. Pete

    It should also be brought to light that social acceptances like, adultery, sexual premiscuity, fornication and all other kinds of Morally questionable acts, behaviors, traits etc. are just as much of an sex offense. Also ingrained ideology of sexual life styles, gays or porn addictions are just as GUILTY as all other sex crimes, its just that some are in the Laws grasp while others are free but just as perverted or sick etc. MORAL TURPITUDE does not stop and start with a REGISTRY !
    The goal is to get all people to acknowledge ALL PEOPLE HAVE A DEPRAVITY IN US JUST AS WE ALSO HAVE A GOOD NATURE, SO WE MUST ALWAYS STRIVE TO SEE THAT GOOD NOT BAD !
    Great lessons of attitudes, behaviors and Humanities !
    We as a people need to do self assessments and TEACH LITIGATION, MITIGATION and facts of individual cases to ensure Justice, Righteousness and Truth !
    Thanks !
    Have a Great Day !

  3. LPH

    This course should be taught in high school as well, as roughly 30% of sex crimes are committed as a minor.

    • TS

      Teaching this material to freshman in high school is an idea that should be implemented without issue just as going back and teaching civics and basic life skills to prep them for the real world are no brainers.

  4. Tim in WI

    TV and media is full of victimites programs. Advertisements for ambulance chasers run regularly.
    I bet there are currently 100 commercials soliciting potential victims by the lawyer crowd on issues from Mesothelioma to Boy Scouts of America. HAVE YOU SUFFERED? Compensation may be available!
    Ladies and gentlemen of the jury this is not mere happenstance that we are where we are. Victim stance is actively being promoted and has been for quite some time. It is a purpose filled effort.

  5. Saddles

    Janice I commend you on another positive view of this whole registry. History! Sure their have been good and bad in many if not all history encounters since the beginnings of time. So were does one start with History of the sex offender or what are the classes trying to instill upon another. Who gets to close to another as if to say I can’t breathe. From the Middle ages to the present age to the confinment of the language culture barriers to the reality of it all. Sex crime laws of offending behavior sounds a bit like a double standard with many mistakes.

    Do we all offend in thought and deed, stumble in many ways or are we all poor as jobs turkey with this sex type entanglement. Where is the culture today in the simple things in life or the love thy neighbor as thyself support, or the turning the other cheek or who is the push over that still holds a grudge to label another.

    With much of this sex offender labeling should one just forget about it, learn a lesson or take a penality shot to clean up the mess or is it better to forgive than receive or who gives a scorpion to abuse another. Talk about self-gradification of a lowness.of oneself. Taking classes to understand about sex offendng may be good to try to understand about oneself or do we learn from an evil for evil senerio. Ex: as what alcohol can do to one’s when one takes to much, or how crazy one can take with heavy burdens or overloads laid upon ones psychic.

    Now Janice has always had a spiritual view when I ask her about that question to her 7 or 8 years ago and yes at times many can seem dumb about all of this. Should we all take a view of a Dr. Ruth stance by saying ” Is it sexual” or a kinsey report of stigmatation or steryotyping one such as labeling. One wonders today who labels a person a computer geek today or a push-over type of person in much of this offender ordeal.

    Addressing this concern is very worthy to helping rid much of this type of computer frinze, I would think Janice and these meetings and all the workers on this view may come up with the answer. Did anyone ever think of asking a preacher his view’s. or even a school board if sex education is allowed in school today or this computer wave of sex education.

  6. AJ

    Yes a decent article indeed. I think it important to point out this Professor is the same one who was recently soliciting on here (through Janice) for a study about RCs. She’s definitely one who is on our side and her being at Ground Zero of ML (NJ) makes it even better. It’d be great if she could bend Rep. Smith’s ear sometime.

    • TS

      Oh, for only if Rep Smith would actually listen with an open mind to her and the facts before casting judgement.

  7. Brandon

    To bad this professor couldn’t run against Smith. I don’t think his ears could handle the truth and his brain would malfunction. Only thing he supports is the bull crap that comes out of his mouth that all have to hear.

    I wonder if he was friends with Epstein, since he knows that registrants travel overseas to engage in sex crimes. Hopefully nothing happens to Epstein’s girlfriend she knows a lot of politicians that were involved.

  8. ab

    The course is a good start. Without access to a syllabus, course outline, or all course materials it is not possible to know where such a course would best be placed if it were part of a series of classes. With a little thinking I can come up with dozens of ideas for classes focusing on different aspects of sex and multiple series of classes regarding many aspects of sex throughout human societies.

    For example sexual norms and practices can vary widely around the world. Any person, group, or governing body could state their perspective on any norm or practice is more valid than another perspective. To a minimal extent there might be close agreement about numerous norms and practices, but that alone does not automatically make them less valid than alternative views. On the flipside merely having a perspective even an unpopular, controversial, and or obscure one does not make it more valid than something with wider acceptance. A series of courses on why people believe what they do about politics, sex, religion, social interaction, and so on could be an important baseline for other series of courses. The point wouldn’t be to convince anyone that any particular viewpoint is right or wrong. Rather to inform people of the range of current and former views and how those show up in each area of life differently around the world.

    No one needs to present the argument that murder is good. However understanding how people might be okay with certain kinds of murder under various circumstances even if they are committing a crime could easily be one foundational component to future courses about all aspects of the different types of murder and the people involved. The point being that more factual information about people and the world will absolutely help in improving life in the future.

  9. Saddles

    @ ab sounds like a beastie boys/spice girl format to me. Lets all go for it. You know guy you all really suprise me, it seems as if 6 or so years ago has passed and nothings changed. Sure we alway knew that this registry needed help. I even knew ACSOL would have its ups and downs just like many of those fighting against the sex registry. Sure a little success here and their, but this labeling stigma seems to be the burden on all.

    What if this registry was over say in a month or two what would everyone do. I mean would you change your demeaner or would one tell some offical were to stick it, get back on your bikes ride away, go watch a movie like Raising Arizona or what would be the best measure. Maybe one could get a job and be productive in one’s life, fight with passports or hash tag it with facebook and all that other nonsense. Would one throw rocks, burn cars and revolt because you don’t have to live with some label. I would love to hear some answers to this object lesson or should we say computer 101. Sounds like a winner to me ab and you just may get several facebook takers.

  10. Saddles

    From the silly to the sublime to the realistic. Lets all be sensible about all this. Is everybody wise out in CA, UT, AZ, FL ,TN,MS or many of the other 50 states. And yes A.D.A.T. I too stopped reading paperback novels but I sometimes listen to Gorden Lightfoot , If you could read my mind. So i’m sure many of you all here get it or who has the true understanding of belligerent behavioral attitude adjustment as to say “Am I my brothers keeper” in so many words. One wonders if you said that to your parents . What would they say “nobody tells me what to do” or who’s the baby sitter today.

    Yes I would hate to wonder what would happen and David my friend I take no offense to any remarks . Actually I never took your response as such. In fact I thought it was amusing idiom just like the wack-a-mole or silly putty compairson. One wonders if most on here should go with a line maybe in court today to say to the judge: YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH or should one mellow out and come to realty. One could probably understand some saying that today in a Cool Hand Luke Society.

    Now abolishing the registry and its many pitfalls is not gonna be easy. Overhauling the sex offender registry is challenging for all. One could go in with some guns and roses method, or some vain assumption of an officer and a gentlemen’s complaint, or fight justice with the sword of justice in this two edged sword ordeal. I hope one is not going with some Monty Phython pipe dreams or some Pilgriam’s progress report, or some foolish pride or who is casting one’s pearl’s to the swine or what is the unforgivable sin today. All things can be forgiven if we hold our head above water. Don’t you know that many governments are corrupt in many ways in this contemptness. Now if anyone can do it, its Janice and her team and the faith of her team for you people and the many others in all States. She and her firm are the Lawyer and your not.

    Should one remove the low risk offender first or the high risk offender or are we all offenders. Ironic isn’t it. Do we all keep the faith, try different methods, or show cause in this tale of two cities ordeal. So who is negating or negotating or who rightly handles the word of truth today. Is it that D.A., that judge, that person whoring even procrastinating in oneself, or do we all wonder about all this fair and righteous judgement two way street. Responsiblity works both ways.”

    So were does compassion or the bible teachings come in. When the bible says all haved sinned that mean’s all. No exceptions. Government induced laws are just as bad as someone blackmailing you or someone cheating you out of land rights or a land grant. Who gives another sinner or brother to dupe on you or should we put all this into a more constructive form to present in a court of law. Speak or forever hold your peace and yes at times we all have to hold our peace and reverent ourselves. Remember no man comes to the Father unless God draws him or whos’ playing the whore of Babylon in this confusion. And it was right under your nose all the time.

  11. Brandon

    Courses like this should be mandatory in middle and high school with parents involved in the course. Education can lead to prevention; which hopefully someday lead to redemption and forgiveness.

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