I want to bring up the topic of dangerous attitudes in life. I'm specifically referring to one particular way of thinking in relation to my work, sexual offences.
The other day I checked out snopes.com and found this page;
Gruesome, eh? Well what is it about this which has bothered me?
The fact that to appreciate the horror of the crimes this guy has likely committed, the man himself has to be hideously ugly. He fits what people stereotypically think of when they think of violent offenders in that he's ugly and deformed so in slinking around in the shadows, he's committing some disgusting act or at least thinking about it, constantly in a search for his next victim. I guess it's understandable; these acts have a unique level of horror for those who imagine them so to imagine the horror, one must imagine the horrible person committing the acts, right? So why is this sort of thing dangerous?
Reality is very different. For one thing, most sexual crime isn't committed by guys like Peppers who slink in the shadows preying on their next victims. Stranger offences are exceedingly rare relative to non-stranger offences. Most violent offences against the person, let alone sexual offences, are committed by people known to the victim. Proven fact.
For two, paedophiles are generally of the softly-spoken, very polite, intelligent, articulate, funny, etc. variety of person. Think about it; who's going to be more likely to ilicit the trust of a family or of victims to get close enough to offend; a polite, intelligent, trustworthy, seemingly moral, friendly person or Mr. Peppers? Which category have priests over the decades largely fit into? Not the Peppers category.
So the above attitude is dangerous in the sense that it creates an unrealistic expectation of what a paedophile or sexual offender looks like so that whilst you're busy watching out for Mr Pepper, friendly Mr Jones is busy 'grooming' your sister/son/daughter/you. Parents are too busy looking out for the 'dirty old man' and not the clean-cut 20-something-year-old (tip; paeds were young too and didn't only start offending when they were old). Remember reading stories about Jack the Ripper and how a rumour started that a man with a black bag was doing the murders? No-one saw that is was actually likely to be the charming, handsome aristocrat from out of town.
Another 'dangerous' angle for this story is more obvious; it unfairly stigmatises those who look like Peppers or just look 'different'. The problems here become clear as those in this group are unfairly stigmatised and instantly suspected when bad things happen.
So why does the public need to look at guys like Peppers in this way? Because it makes them feel better. Why? Because if sex offenders actually looked like Peppers, well they'd be easy to spot, right? It scares people to death that the threat to their kids might not be obvious or visible and might, in fact, come in a very charming package. So in watching out for Mr. Peppers, they've covered their bases in their own minds and lulled themselves into a false sense of security which will hopefully never be tested.
Anyway, that'll do for now. Anyone else have a comment or wish to discuss inherently dangerous attitudes? I'm bringing them up because I think we can educate people of all ages about this sort of stuff before, well, they pay for it.