Sticking foreign objects or fingers into the anus or vagina Masturbating in front of children Exposing children to pornographic material Touching for a sexual purpose Child prostitution Subjecting children to watch others engage in sexual activity, and so forth Children under the age of 14 cannot legally consent to any form of sexual activity or contact, the assumption being that children are not capable of making decisions regarding sexual activities given their level of psychological and physiological development.
As such, society has established a number of laws in order to protect children and others from sexual offences and at the same time hold accountable those who violate children. Sexual offences are not considered to be normal exploratory behaviour. As many of us may recall, children often played games such as playing house or playing doctor. For many of us, this generally involved showing each other our private parts.
As long as this behaviour did not progress beyond such activities it was considered to be normal developmental behaviour. However, a 15 year old playing these games with a 5 or 6 year old is not normal sexual behaviour. Once this has occurred it has moved into the realm of abusive and exploitive behaviour. Many adolescent offenders will bribe, threaten, intimidate, coerce or scare children into participating and then into maintaining the secret sexual relationship.
Offenders knowingly engage in behaviour that is unlawful and generally go to great care to avoid detection, as is evidenced by the fact that most will attempt to prevent their victims from reporting the offence. It is understandable then, why so many parents have difficulty accepting that their teen was capable of committing a sexual assault offence.
Fortunately, as more and more children are educated about sexual assaults and unwanted touching, they are more apt to tell someone. The Criminal Code of Canada provides the legal definition of what constitutes a sexual assault. Many people get confused by the term sexual assault as in the past there were various definitions and types of offences e.
However, recent changes to the Criminal Code define two basic types of sexual offences: In the first category, any sexual activity with anyone under the age of 14 is considered to be an offence.
This category can also include more serious and violent offences such as actual or attempted anal or vaginal intercourse, oral contact, etceteras. In the second category, non-consenting or coercive sexual activity can be against anyone of any age and of either sex. In other words, it is an offence to engage in any sexual activity that is forced on a person or when a person cannot or does not give their consent. This form of sex offence is referred to as sexual assault.
If your teen is before the courts he could likely face any one or more of the following charges as found in the Criminal Code of Canada: Section — Sexual Interference: Anyone who for a sexual purpose, touches directly or indirectly, with a part of the body or an object, any part of the body of a child under the age of Section — Incest: Section — Anal Intercourse: Prohibited with anyone under the age of Section 1 — Indecent Acts: Performing an indecent act in a public place in the presence of one or more persons.
Exposure exhibitionism , and masturbation in public are good examples of offences under this section. This section differs from section 2 CCC in that this section would apply in those incidents where the victims are over the age of 14 years. Section 2 — Exposing Genitals to a Child: Any person who exposes his genitals to a child under the age of 14 for a sexual purpose. Section — Sexual Assault: Applying force to another person directly or indirectly, without consent, and consisting of a sexual nature.
Committing a sexual assault while carrying, using or threatening to use a weapon or imitation of a weapon, or threatening bodily harm to a person other than the victim, or being party to this offence with someone else.
Section — Aggravated Sexual Assault: Wounding, maiming, disfiguring or endangering the life of the victim while committing the sexual assault. These sections of the Criminal Code do not represent all of the sections of the Criminal Code dealing with sexual offences e. The above noted offences are generally the most frequently used charges against adolescent sexual offenders. Should you have more questions regarding these offences or court proceedings, you and your teen should seek legal advice.
When parents first come to the realization that their teen may have committed a sexual offence most will react with shock and disbelief. Many parents often feel guilty, wondering what they did wrong and do not want to believe that this is happening to their family. Still others feel alone, ashamed and worried that no one will understand or accept their family again. Many parents may experience intense thoughts and can become preoccupied with questions like: If you have not yet been able to accept that your teen has committed a sexual offence you may be thinking "Not my child!
There are generally eight stages that you will go through as you deal with the sexually abusive behaviour of your teen. Some parents may go through these stages quickly while others may take considerable time to move from one stage to the next.
These stages are as follows: Stage 1 — Shock Your initial reaction is one of shock. Everything you know about your teen is destroyed. Psychologically, you are not prepared to deal with this realization and shock to your family. You are not able to comprehend what has happened and what the future may hold for you or your teen.
Stage 2 — Disbelief Once you have overcome your shock, it is common to move into the disbelief stage and to take a defensive posture. This disbelief leads you to question the allegation, stating "Not my child! Stage 3 — Denial It is a normal response of many parents to deny that their teen had anything to do with a sexual offence.
You may take the view that if you close your eyes the problem will go away. Unfortunately, this denial does nothing to help your teen and does not prepare you to deal with the legal issues that you and your teen are now presented with. As the parent, you need to understand that the majority of victims usually children do not lie about sexual offences.
Once you have begun to move beyond the denial stage and begin to reach a level of acceptance, you enter the "why" stage. Stage 4 — Why This stage is where most parents begin to vent their anger and in some cases rage towards their teen and themselves. The very nature of this stage is the number of unanswered questions. At a time when you want to be in control you are not. Recognizing the need for outside help can be a positive step and a sign of strength at an already difficult time.
Stage 5 — Projection When we project blame on to others it allows us to avoid taking responsibility for our behaviours. A normal response to this experience will be to blame others for your problems as this temporarily removes some of the stress. The victim is often blamed for the sexual assault.
Do not fall into this trap. As well, the probation officer or therapist will also confront you, as the parent, on your projections. Although it may not seem like it at the time, this is part of the helping process and as time moves on it will become easier to identify these projections and correct them. This is the partial acknowledgement of responsibility. You will come to recognize this stage when you hear yourself or your teen say, "he did it, BUT…", "he only…" Typically, parents or the offender try to minimize their involvement or the impact on the victim.
When an offender minimizes, parents may find the probation officer or therapist carefully confronting the youth and reminding him of the serious consequences of his behaviour and impact upon the victim. Stage 7 — Acceptance This is usually the first big step in the helping process. In order for any changes to take place you must accept what has happened and recognize that your teen has committed a sexual offence.
It is also the acknowledgement that this behaviour has had a grievous impact upon the family and that the family also needs help and support. Do not hesitate to take advantage of the help that is available and offered.
Your teen will require expert help in dealing with his sexual behaviour problems. Acceptance is the recognition of this need for help and should be viewed as a sign of strength and determination at overcoming this difficult time. You will need to continue to accept your teen as a unique individual with the same emotional needs as every other teen e.
Once you and your teen have accepted this reality, you are in the unique position to actively participate and begin to contribute to the helping treatment process. Stage 8 - Problem Solving It is at this stage that the youth will likely begin to enter a treatment programme.
In British Columbia, young persons convicted of a sexual offence will be referred by their probation officer to the treatment programme residential or non-residential offered through Youth Forensic Psychiatric Services. Most treatment programmes take an average of 8 to 10 months to complete. While you may feel alone at times, it is important to know that you are not alone. Many parents have experienced what you are feeling today and many more have successfully navigated their way through the barrage of feelings and emotions.
Counseling and treatment will help you, your family and your teen, move through these stages and begin to heal. There is no single explanation for why some youth are capable of committing sexual offences against others. In the past, adolescent sexual offenders were simply dismissed as having engaged in sex play or experimentation and little was done to address the problem.
Unfortunately, what we do know is that the majority of adult sexual offenders began as adolescents. Many people would have you believe that adults perpetrate the majority of offences against children; this, interestingly enough, is not true. Your child is in the unique position to deal with their sexually offending behaviour. They are in a position to break the chain of abuse and to stop the sexual abuse of others.
As I have previously noted, there is no one single explanation for why some youth commit sexual offences. However, there have been a number of studies within the last decade that have looked at the origins of sexually abusive behaviour. Adolescent sex offenders generally share similar characteristics that predispose them to sexual offending. It is important to keep in mind while reading the characteristics listed below that although it is common for sexual offenders to share these characteristics, it is possible for someone to have similar experiences and characteristics and not be a sexual offender.
History of Sexual Abuse Childhood sexual abuse has often been considered an important factor in adolescent sexual offending. It is important to remember that although these numbers may be staggering there is no causal relationship between having been sexually abused and having committed a sexual offence. From the research noted above, one could conclude that approximately 1 in 4 male victims of sexual abuse might commit a sexual offence in their lifetime.