Canada's sex offender legislation: 'tough on crime', short on smarts!

Sexual Offending: Factual Threats

 The Government of Canada has, for many years, been ignoring the evidence relating to sexual offenses in Canada, and has done so to the detriment of all Canadians. While the government has been initiating policies specifically directed to those events which garner the most media attention, the larger threats to society have been largely ignored.

Kim Pate, executive director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies was correct when she stated that if Harper truly cared about the victims of crime he should have spent more time talking about "the reality of the increasing risk to women and children of domestic violence" or to announcing a response to the crisis of 500 missing and murdered indigenous women across the country. "These are issues that truly require government attention, not rhetorical and inflammatory speeches that detract from how little is truly being done to assist those who are victimized," said Pate.

The federal government could have done something constructive In 1995 when it was reported that 8 out of 10 female students in Ontario said they had been sexually harassed at school. (“The Joke’s Over – Student to Student Sexual Harassment in Secondary Schools”, published by The Ontario Women’s Directorate, The Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation and the Ministry of Education, (1995).) More than 10 years later it’s evident that our government has done nothing to keep these children safe:

 In 2008 the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)'s Dr. David Wolfe released new research on school violence, sexual harassment and bullying conducted at 23 schools in Southwestern Ontario. CAMH's Centre for Prevention Science surveyed 1819 Grade 9 and 11 students in both rural and city schools between 2004 and 2007 to measure both the victimization and perpetration of harassment and bullying and overall school safety. The data collected and released in a report today shows cause for concern:

  • When surveyed on sexual pressures, four percent of males in grade 11 admitted trying to force someone to have sex with them, while 10 percent of males and 27 percent of females admitted being pressured into doing something sexual that they did not want to.
  • Twenty-nine percent of grade nine girls and 33 percent of grade nine boys reported feeling unsafe at school in the past month. "Going to high school today is like running the gauntlet," said David Wolfe, principal investigator and Director of CAMH's Centre for Prevention Science in London, Ontario. "Yet the high school years are some of the most important in terms of development."
  • According to the survey, 16 percent of girls and 32 percent of boys reported being physically harmed (on or off school property), while ten percent of girls and 25 percent of boys admit to being the perpetrators of such violence. And in a trend that has emerged with the widespread use of the web and social networking sites, 12 percent of males and 14 percent of females reported being harassed over the Internet.

Dr. Wolfe cautions that the effect of what happens in high school today can take a significant toll. "All these behaviors, from physical violence to verbal harassment, can be harmful and have serious effects on their well-being. Bullying and harassment are well known to affect an individual's health and adjustment, including problems such as depression, substance use, anxiety and academic failure," he said.

                Retrieved from: http://www.camh.net/News_events/Media_centre/CAMH%20harassment%20paper.pdf

In their 2002 survey on 2064 students in 8th through 11th grade, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) reported how widespread such abuse is:

  • 83% of girls have been sexually harassed
  • 78% of boys have been sexually harassed
  • 38% of the students were harassed by teachers or school employees
  • 36% of school employees or teachers were harassed by students
  • 42% of school employees or teachers had been harassed by each other

               Retrieved from: http://www.aauw.org/learn/research/upload/hostilehallways.pdf

 

Other statistics make it quite evident that the government must focus its attention on resources to where the greatest threats to our children lay, and that is definitely not the former offenders who have served their sentences and have completed treatment:

One in nine Canadian children, more than a million, lives below the poverty line according to the 2008 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Canada. Fifteen years ago, the Canadian government resolved to eliminate child poverty by the year 2000. Nine years later, nothing has changed.

Retrieved from: http://www.canadiancrc.com/Child_Poverty_in_Canada.aspx

 A United States Department of Justice report states that in 2002 an estimated 1,325,600 children went missing. 797,500 were reported as missing. 628,900 of these children were identified as runaway/throwaway children. Of the other 528,100 children their parents didn't even bother to file a report. Out of 1,325,600 missing children 115 were taken by a stranger. And that includes children that were snatched for ransom; children that were snatched by a disturbed or distraught person who wanted a child of their own, so how many are left that were snatched and killed by the sex offenders that are hiding behind every tree? Actually, the report tells us that number is 40 out of the 1.3 million who went missing- that’s less than 1/100th of 1%.

 Retrieved from: http://www.missingkids.com/en_US/documents/nismart2_overview.pdf

 

 It is a sad fact that there are more children who die each year than just these 40. Many more. Most of which are entirely preventable. A report by the Center for Disease Control, defining the primary causes of deaths of minors in 2002, show that there were 17,759 children who died. Of those:

                                               1296 were shot to death by someone,
                                               145 were stabbed to death,
                                               89 were strangled,
                                               37 were burned alive,
                                               17 were poisoned,
                                               603 shot themselves,
                                               559 hung themselves, and
                                               6132 were killed in traffic accidents.

                Retrieved from: http://webapp.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/leadcaus10.html

This tells us that in 2002:

A child was 1400% more likely to hang themselves than be snatched and killed by a sex offender.
A child was 1500% more likely to shoot themselves than be snatched and killed by a sex offender
A child was 3200% more likely to be murdered by firearm by someone besides a sex offender.
A child was 4000% more likely to be shot, stabbed, strangled, burned alive or poisoned than snatched and killed by a sex offender.
A child was 15300% more likely to be killed in a car crash than snatched and killed by a sex offender.

 In 2005 The American Journal of Psychiatry reported that:

Among children under age 5 years in the United States who were murdered in the last quarter of the 20th century, 61% were killed by their own parents: 30% were killed by their mothers, and 31% by their fathers.
                                   Retrieved from: http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/162/9/1578

Regardless of all the evidence which glaringly displays the greatest threats to children in Canada, the federal government continues to focus on only those few sensational stories which have garnered the most media attention. By focusing on former sex offenders, a very easy target, the government will look tough on crime without having to do any real work, like finding solutions to the real and constant threats to child safety in Canada.