An Analysis of Bert Case Study
An Analysis of Bert Case Study INTRODUCTION Child sexual abuse is the most horrendous crime committed against children. It is beyond comprehension how can a human being commit such an atrocity to another human being, especially children. In today’s society, we see many types of deviant acts being committed against children, women, men and even animals, and what can society do about it? What can be done to prevent it?In order for us to begin to understand the reasons behind this deviant behaviour, we need to look into specific aspects of each case, study the behaviour of the perpetrator and the circumstances that contributed to his or hers behaviour. Consequently, this paper will explore Bert’s Case Study, and will aim at identifying Bert’s problem behaviour, understand and explain his offending behaviour towards children and find a suitable rehabilitation program for Bert, so as to prevent him from ever re-offending.Lastly, this paper will evaluate how successful is the treatment program offered to Bert and if it is the most appropriate one to aid in preparing him from future re-offending.
IDENTIFICATION OF BERT’S PROBLEM BEHAVIOUR Bert a 49-year-old man is identified as a child sex offender and is serving a 7 year sentence for sexually assaulting children. Bert was a scout master and was arrested after numerous complaints claiming he had sexually assaulted boys scouts aged between 10 and 14 years of age during his scout activities.It is known that these offenses occurred over a number of years. Many would describe Bert as a paedophile, however, there is more than one definition of paedophilia but for the purpose of this paper Bert will be considered a paedophile, or – a male adult who chooses children as the object of his sexual preferences. Bert claims that his sexual offenses towards these boys began after his wife’s car accident when she became a paraplegic, which led to Bert’s “blocking off access to an adult sexual partner” (Abel and Osborn 1995, p. 73).
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Although Bert claims that his sexual offenses began when his wife became disabled, the scouts also mention that Bert’s sexual offenses occurred over a number of years, which lead us to believe that Bert is not being truthful and is trying to hide his true feelings. According to Smallbone and Wortley (2004), child sex offenders tend to begin offending in adolescence, and that “the average age at first sexual offense conviction is to be about 37 years”.Hanson (2002) also argues that “opportunity for sexual contact with children peaks in middle-age when men establish themselves in parental roles or other position of authority related to children”, in this particular case, Bert being a scout master offered him ample contact with children. Bert claims that when he was a child he was sexually abused by his uncle, and this could have contributed to his offending. According to Abel and Osborn (1995, p.
275), Bert’s sexual offenses towards children may have been instigated by his childhood sexual victimisation by his uncle. CONCEPTUALISATION OF BERT’S OFFENDING BEHAVIOUROver the centuries, many theorists have come about with numerous types of theories to describe personality behaviours. These theories emphasise each person’s own propensities and characteristics with the aim at explaining their criminal behaviour. One of the earliest theorists named Lambroso believed that criminal behaviour was the result of a person’s genetic abnormality, Lambroso was an atavist. Other theorists such as, the American psychologist B.
F. Skinner and the Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov believed that criminal behaviour focused on conditioned reflexes, Albert Bandura believed in his Social Learning theory.According to Barbaree, Bogaert and Seto (1995, p. 362) they argue that “paraphiliacs disorders were caused by distortions of a process of learning or conditioning”. Barbaree (1995, p.
376) further explained that “these deviant behaviours serve to reduce the tension and frustration the offender experiences”. Whilst some theorists concentrate on conditioned reflexes, others concentrate on theories such as Social Learning theory which works on the assumption that behaviours are controlled by environmental influences (Bandura 1997).As the reader can appreciate these theories of criminal behaviour are based solely in either behaviouristic or cognitive approaches. Burger (2008) argues that “if we are to understand the process that shape our personalities as well as develop procedures for changing problem behaviours, we must examine basic conditioning principles”. Whether the importance is placed on the person’s conditioned behaviour or their psychoanalytic structure, these approaches clearly indicate that behavioural choices such as, desire or motivation are part of the person’s personality.
According to Marshall and Barbaree’s (1990), integrated theory “proposes that male men are biologically prepared for sexual aggression”. Another theorist, Albert Bandura (1997) and his Social Learning Theory also known as Social Cognitive Theory, explain how individuals develop and maintain certain types of behaviour, whilst at the same time providing the foundation to achieve the desired intervention method. This Social Cognitive Theory was implemented in 1941 by N. E. Miller and J.
Dollard; these theorists argued that learning by observation was the motivation for individuals to learn a specific behaviour; they further argued that, by imitating the actions observed would strengthen their learning and would also be rewarded with positive reinforcement (Miller and Dollard 1941). This theory was further developed by A. Bandura and R. H. Walters and is one of the four personality theories that focus on the development of the personality of each person aiming at providing an understanding on how a person can be influenced by their surroundings and their inter-personal associations.
Thus, deviance becomes a product of socialisation, and this case is an illustration of how Bert’s behaviour was a learnt behaviour from those around him, as he claimed, he was abused by his uncle when he was a child, he learnt his uncle abusive behaviour and transferred this same behaviour to himself. Amongst Bandura’s many researches, he introduced the “triadic reciprocal determinism” in which, cognitive and other personal factors, the environment and the person’s behaviour function as determinants of one another (Bandura 1986, p. 3-24). So far the reader was able to attain a limited understanding about some theories related to a person’s behaviour and personality, however, there are still many others that have not been mentioned and may also relate to Bert’s Case Study. Notwithstanding this fact, there is not one theory that will explain Bert’s behaviour in its entirety, as many psychologists have stated before, “there is not just one theory that describes a person’s criminal behaviour, but a combination of many theories” (Burger 2008).
REHABILITATION AND TREATMENT PROGRAM There is an array of treatment programs that aid the offender’s rehabilitative process, such as, group therapy, family therapy, restorative justice therapy, positive labelling therapy, modelling therapy, social skills training, problem solving training, Multisystemic therapy, incapacitation amongst many, and lastly, Cognitive Behavioural therapy. In order for us to understand which treatment program is the one that will most benefit Bert, we need to briefly learn about them.Behaviour modification, or behaviour therapy, as it is also referred to by theorists is a process of changing the person’s observable behaviour through the use of psychological methods, in other words, it is a process that rewards the offender for good behaviour, or punishes him or her for bad behaviour (Blackburn 1993). The modelling approach therapy is briefly described as a reinforcement of the positive role model, where a person with authority displays positive attitudes and the offenders model themselves as to copy the attitudes of that person of authority.The social skills training theory employs a skilled person through the use of role-play with feedback by teaching alternative responses to aggression.
The problem solving technique is an approach that presumes that the offender may be able to reduce his or hers problem involving scenarios such as, distinguishing facts from fiction or using problem recognition alternatives.Restorative justice is a very popular method, however, it is mostly used in the rehabilitation of young offenders, as it gives them the opportunity to be in contact with their victim in an attempt to understand the problem and arrive at a solution: positive labelling theory is an approach widely used in the US and New Zealand, since it “labels” the child sex offenders upon release from prison, so that the community can identify them as paedophiles (Bohm and Haley 1997).The Multisystemic Therapy is a family-centred treatment that targets family and peers, as well as the community and the neighbourhood of the youth offenders (Hanggeler, Schoenwald, Borduin, Rowland and Cunningham, 1998). This approach, as it can be seen, is more suitable for use in the treatment of young offenders and not so much for adult sex offenders. Another approach to rehabilitation treatment for sex offenders that is mostly used worldwide is incapacitation.Incapacitation is actually a process that protects the community from further harm; it is where the child sex offender is incarcerated.
This form of treatment emphasises the retribution therapy, where the child sex offender must be punished for his act, and at the same time, pose no more risk to society by being incarcerated. Finally, the last of the brief descriptions of only a few theories relates to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.Cognitive Behavioural Therapy that is based on the offender’s needs, response and risk are the most commonly used form of treatment of child sex offenders , with the majority of these child sex offenders been released back into the community, effective treatment must be implements aiming at reducing the rates of recidivism (Moster, Wnuk and Jeglic, 2008). Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is based on the idea that a person’s attitudes, beliefs and thoughts determine the offender’s emotional experience and behaviour, and through the use of Cognitive BehaviouralTherapy, the person is able to study and change their beliefs and thoughts. This treatment intervention can be applied to individuals or to groups of individuals and concentrates on training victim’s awareness and empathy. The offender learns about the sexual abuse cycle itself, about any interpersonal skills, learns about training on anger management and any change on any further deviant sexual arousal patterns.
The stress of incarceration has contributed to Bert’s current psychological disturbance, as he states that he is ashamed of his behaviour and at times has thought of suicide.Australia’s criminal justice system, and for that matter, any country’s criminal justice system is engrossed in finding alternatives to the treatment of child sex offenders with a choice of either imprisonment or release on parole together with other more specialised type of treatment (Hollin 1989, p. 96). PROGRAM OBEJCTIVES AND EVALUATION According to Chisholm (2001, p. 215), Cognitive Behavioural Therapy combined with relapse prevention are the best form of treatment for child sex offenders.In Bert’s case, the main objective is to digress him from abusing children, especially boys, aged between 10 and 14 years of age.
In the rehabilitation process, therapists must also use social and emotional therapy skills, in this case, Bert needs to improve his social and emotional skills, as Ward (1999, p. 298) says “therapists must identify the offender’s major skill deficits and behavioural excesses as to increase their adaptive skills and the ability to express painful emotions”. Also, according to Barbaree et al. (1995, p. 74) “social skills training is one of the most often prescribed treatment for sex offenders”.
Another most important objective to help rehabilitating sex offenders is to assist them in regaining their sense of self-worth and increase their empathy level. SUCCESSFULNESS OF PROGRAMS It is a well known fact that child sexual crimes have been recognised in society as an extremely serious problem; and how does society get to know about it? Well, it is not hard to figure it out; the media, with their intentions of creating sensationalism instil in society a very daunting and ugly picture.It is not the writer’s intention to state that child sexual crimes do not exist, far from it, but what they should be actually advertising is about methods on how to educate the community to accept that child sex offenders do need treatment whilst incarcerated and when they are released or placed on parole. The community believe that incarcerating a child sex offender and ‘throwing away the key” is what these deviant men need, however, this is not the case, this incapacitation therapy method, as explained before, does not offer positive results in the long run and should be avoided.The successfulness of these treatment programs will depend on how often they are used and the therapists must ensure that when applying these treatments, all avenues are followed and that monitoring is also constantly applied.
From this, it will egress a better rehabilitated individual and a reduction in recidivism will be noticeable. CONCLUSION To reiterate, it is known that child sex offenders are the most despised individuals in any criminal justice system, as the seriousness of their crime and the effect it causes to the victim make it to be the most emotive of crimes in any society.Child sexual abuse is a problem that has made the public become more aware of its existence and although the true extent of child sexual abuse in society remains concealed it must be reinforced the need for these crimes to be reported. Women and children must be educated that they are the victims, and, therefore, need assistance, and at the same time, their reporting will assist authorities to apprehend and punish these perpetrators accordingly. As a result, we must not just view the sexual abuse of children as a misfortune and that the child is the only victim we must learn to perceive that the offender is also a victim.This intergenerational cycle, or better saying, this dual role is the heart of the cycle of abuse.
Thus, the need for treatment interventions to the abuser and the victim, these treatment programs will provide valuable help for all involved, especially for parents of dysfunctional families. Perhaps, after Bert receives the appropriate treatment and no longer imposes any risk to society, he may even be able to rejoin the scouts group and continue to be surrounded with children, and continue to be part of his church group.Quoting Cohen and Felson (1979), “any offense against a person requires three minimal elements – a potential offender, a suitable target and the absence of a capable guardian”. REFERENCES Abel, G. G. And Osborn, C.
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