Much of this country’s public policy towards sex offenders is based on
misinformation or ignorance of the extensive research that has been conducted in
this area. Too often, all sex offenders are viewed as a single entity: the predatory
stranger unable to control his or her urge to prey upon children. Not being able to be
rehabilitated, the individual needs to be incarcerated for long periods of time and
have severe restrictions imposed once released. This image is all too often reinforced
by politicians, the media, and others who profit from panicking the public with
visions of an ever-spiraling increase in sexual abuse. However, the fact is that this
definition fits only a small percentage of sex offenders. The vast majority have
virtually the lowest re-offense rate among all criminal categories and can be safely
and productively reintegrated into their communities. In addition, child sexual abuse
is far rarer than politicians and the media would make out, and in fact has declined
significantly over the past few decades.
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