The society’s reaction to sex offenders is best described as a shock state. This shock is caused by both violations of their ideals of children being innocent, and a strong discrepancy between a stereotypical image of a violent sex predator, and the usual way sex offense happens. The shock reaction of society is best described in the trial of James Parker (Theunissen, 2013) and other similar cases. Many actions are taken against sex offenders that are unnecessary, like registration – and may actually lead to a false ense of security or vigilantism by community members.
The most important thing here is that registration is in no way helping prevent future sex offense cases (Arrigo & Shipley, 2004). The methods of punishment or future risk aversion are also usually an overshoot – up to vandalism/violence like chemical castration. In those cases questions must be raised, whether the constitutional rights of the sex offender are not being offended. Another aspect of society’s reaction is the significant difference between their self- created picture of the way abuse happens, and the “real world”.
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According to Arrigo & Shipley (2004) a typical concept of a sex offender is a predator hunting for strangers on the street, willing to attack anyone. While the actual way things usually happen is and most definitely group sex or incestuous behavior has played an important role in our evolution. So, the striking thing about sex offenses is that these happen as a surprise from trusted and loved ones, inside the “family’ – either a factual family or a surrogate, like a community. The James Parker school abuse case in also a good example of such disruption of trust (Theunissen, 2013).
Both factors mentioned generate a usually harsh and irrational reaction of society against sex offenders; many people lose the ability to Judge the boundaries objectively where the sex offenders may get seriously offended themselves.