There is a report on BBC News out that states the high rate of re-offending from those imprisoned for sex offences.
A guy called Maslow (actually he was a psychologist) proposed, many many years ago, his theory on human needs. There are lots of these theories from many different psychologists, but I like this one – and have done since I learnt about it around 1985. Below is part of an image which I have pinched from here.
In an nutshell, once you have completed one level of need (that is, you have fulfilled that need) you can then move on to the next level up. Once all levels of need have been fulfilled, you can then start to ‘self-actualize- – in other words, be you, the individual. If though, you have not completed a level of need, although you can move upwards, your need to fulfil that missing need does not go away, and there will be a constant need to fulfil that need. This need will be an urge, a drive. This making sense so far ?
So let’s have an example.
Maslow stated that the satisfaction of physiological needs were the base for all others, and from what I have just said, although other needs can be fulfilled in the mean time, not having a base need filled will be a constant source of wanting from the individual. One base need is food, in order that we are not hungry. If you are hungry – as you will know – you can still work and function, but you are being constantly diverted from the task at hand by this feeling of hunger. Only once that hunger has been satisfied can you give other work and activities more attention. Now this must be a feeling that the vast majority of people will recognise. So let’s look at another base need example. Sex.
If your need for sex has been satisfied, you may not be ‘on the look-out’ so to speak. If your need for sex (which encompasses actions other that intercourse itself) has been satisfied, then it may not be the focus of your attention. (Note, I’m saying need not desire – I would separate the two myself), but if it has not, then it is sex you want, and in the same way that a person will look for food when hungry, then they could also look for sex when the base need asserts itself.
Social conditioning also plays a part. In the same way that if you are hungry you don’t grab food off a stranger, then if you want sex, you don’t impose your needs on someone else to their detriment. But, if your base need is such that it becomes so overwhelming that it overrides your social conditioning, then not only are you in trouble, but so are those around you. Breaking social conditioning is a very hard thing to do (try deliberately urinating in your clothes when you are on your own..) but, if it has been broken once, then it can be broken again much much more easily.
Someone serving abroad in the forces is having their base need for sex withdrawn, as would someone working on the oil rigs, you get the idea. When they come home, they may have a wife or girlfriend who can, ahem, ‘help them out’ and their needs are fulfilled. They may have money to spend on prostitutes or mistresses, but the fact is they fulfill these neglected needs lawfully.
A sex offender who has been imprisoned, has has his needs denied forcefully. Arguably, they did not choose to go to prison (Base need takes precedence over all others) yet when they are released, two things have not occurred, and are unlikely to:
1) Their sexual needs, and possibly the inappropriateness of them, has not been addressed. It’s not good enough just to say ‘It’s bad’ – it’s a base need, and as such it needs fulfilling.
2) They broke a strong element of social conditioning – they forced themself onto another, and this too will not have been addressed. If something, anything, breaks, you don’t try to make it as strong as it was before, you must make it stronger.
So people who have unmet needs, and faulty social conditioning are being released onto the streets. Is it any wonder that they repeat offend ? Until something is done that addresses both these areas, then more victims -preventable victims – will be produced.
I have said before that I believe that adult who offend sexually against children should be locked up for ever, and I continue to think that way. I do not see how their behaviour can be altered to the positive. It’s such a strong need, and driven by such a deep psychological process, that I honestly think the needs of the many (children / society) far outweigh the needs of the one (the offender).
Offenders against adults should certainly be more closely monitored on release, and any reoffending, at all, must be met with a very long custodial sentence.
J once worked on a regional secure unit. On her first day, she asked who the murderers were. She was told “You don’t have to worry about them – they’ve killed who they didn’t like. It’s the rapists who’ve still got all the problems………”