A young man who was convicted of raping his younger sister is due to be returned home. Apparently he committed his crimes after watching pornography and had a desire to try it out. They report that he is disgusted at what he has done and an impact statement by his younger sister states that she would like her brother to return home and she loves him and misses playing with him. The young man is currently living away from home.
He is only 13 at present and I agree that locking him up would “expose him to “hardened and sophisticated” youth offenders, Judge Prowse said.” Having said that, I desperately hope that he has received counselling around sexually harmful behaviour and not just why it is wrong and inappropriate but also the impact on the victim. He needs to learn the impact of what he’s done, not just the physical consequences but also the emotional impact.
I desperately hope his younger sister is receiving counselling regardless of the circumstances but especially if the young man’s sexual offences were committed under the guise of playing games. I would hope that someone is working with her to understand her feelings, emotions and distinguish between the feelings evoked by what she and her brother were doing and those feelings that she should be feeling toward her brother. This incident interrupted her development. It is a definitively critical moment in her development.
Both children need counselling, in depth counselling that will ensure they can forever distinguish feelings and emotions and boundaries in their relationships. We want to ensure he never commits another offense and that she can develop positive, healthy relationships where there are no blurred lines, abuse, guilt, shame or distinct awkwardness that would prohibit any of those things. We need to understand how she viewed the incidents. We need to understand how she views her brother and how she views herself. We need to understand how she sees her parents and other adults in her life. We need to understand what she understands about sex and or sex games. It is imperative that we understand all these things if we are to minimise the impact of this on her development. And where there are discrepancies or misunderstandings in her relationship paradigms these need to be “rewired” and restructured to ensure that she has the appropriate messages.
I hope the professionals involved have thought of the above and are providing the interventions necessary to limit the impact of these events on both children. I hope they will be monitored. I hope his sister has gotten a talk about “good touch” and “bad touch”. I hope their parents are being supported in having these conversations with their children. I hope their parents will monitor their interactions from now on; not to be intrusive but to prevent anything like this from happening again. There was no way they could foresee this but they can help prevent it from reoccurring.
Not to be a cynic, but as much as the young man has said he is “disgusted” with his own behaviour, it remains to be seen if he is just repeating what he’s heard or if he is truly remorseful. I don’t want to hear about this young man in 5, 10, 15 or even 20 years having repeated his crimes because the only intervention he received was removal from the home and a referral order (which doesn’t stop young people from reoffending). There needs to be real therapeutic assessment and intervention so we understand both children’s relationship paradigms following this as well as at what level to pitch intervention to rectify any damage that has been done.