Sex offenders need help finding good in themselves

Updated: 2009-09-12 08:04

By Teddy Ng(HK Edition)

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HONG KONG: Sex offenders should be given help to discover the good in themselves, an essential need if they are to be dissuaded from committing crimes against others, counselors said.

Figures provided by the Correctional Services Department revealed that there were 293 sex offenders admitted to departmental institutions in 2007. In 2005, there were 229. Among those, 6.9 percent were jailed within three years.

Sex offenders undergo treatment for between six and 14 months when serving their sentence. Serious offenders are required to go through psychological assessment to determine whether they should be monitored after release.

The monitoring period usually lasts for between six months and two years. Those who violate conditions of their parole may be returned to jail.

Francis Kong Po-cheung, project supervisor for Caritas Community Support Project on Development of Sexual Health which carries about 40 cases, said sex offenders usually suffer from a self-labeling effect.

The offenders usually hide from family and friends, unwilling to discuss what they have done and feeling alone. These individuals are often immersed in negative images of themselves. Some consider themselves despicable.

"They just hide themselves and they cannot see the other values or the positive side of their personality," Kong said, "They feel that their problems cannot be solved."

The counseling program will help them to look for ways to stop those at risk from committing offences. "For example, some of them may stop committing the offence again by calling other people when they are under temptation, or avoid going to certain places," he said.

Kong said positive life image should be given to offenders. Some cases who come for guidance are reminded of the contributions they have made to society, such as doing volunteer work, to enhance their self-esteem.

Kong urged those who have committed offences to seek help earlier and not be frightened about discussing the problem with counselors.

One man who has never been arrested and who wishes to remain anonymous said he used to be frightened about discussing his problem with others.

"However, once I have opened up myself, I have found that many people are willing to help," he said in a written reply to reporter's questions.

The man who took surreptitious photos under the skirts of women, feared he would be fired by his employers. He said even during the initial phase of counselling he still felt tempted to reoffend.

"I will think of some people who are important to me or think about the consequence of being caught. I should not let down the people who have given me chances," he said.

He said he has accepted that his behavior is disrespectful of others.

(HK Edition 09/12/2009 page1)