Experiences from the nordic countries – Editor: Svein Mossige NOVA Oslo

Summary Sexual abuse of children is a complicated subject. It raises issues relating to ethics, morals, law, sociology, finance, sexology, psychology and culture. When specialists work on an abuse case – regardless of whether they meet the offender, the child abused, the child’s mother or family where the abuse took place – they will usually see that several of these issues are involved. Though we cannot deal with all these issues at the same time, we have to be able to take a holistic view of them when working on a case. The issue of how to deal with offenders is thus not only one of techniques and methods of treatment, it also concerns how the legal system should face offenders, and the reactions the latter will provoke amongst their respective families and friends, neighbours and others. Will the family build a wall around the offender and support him by denying what he did? Will his family and friends reject him on moral grounds? Will most people see the man in the light of their apparent “knowledge” based on mass media coverage where such a person is often presented as a dumb pervert who is different from everyone else? Such reactions will not help this person to choose to come forward. At the same time, denial or trivialisation of the issue by the people around the offender will also not help him come forward. The reactions of the people around the offender are significant. They will affect the offender, the child he abused, and the people influenced by the abuse. Knowledge of those guilty of sexual abuse against children is therefore important – not only for those working with the issue, but also for every ordinary man and woman.

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