An American mother discovers that the legal system's "cure" for child sex abuse can be worse than the alleged disease. She writes anonymously in the web magazine Salon ttp://www.salonmagazine.com/by Anonymous / May 20, 1997 / Leave a comment
28th February 1997
Every wednesday i find a seat in a windowless basement room, in a circle of 25 people. The chairs are hard and cold, the level of discomfort far more than physical. There are eight teenage boys and two therapists, all the rest of us are parents. These boys, including my son, are sex offenders.
Some months ago, a school counsellor called and said he needed to speak to me at once. When he arrived I was braced for the worst. What he told me was more unexpected than death-my 14-year-old son had confessed to molesting our other son, who is several years younger. In the parlance of sexual abuse, he had “disclosed,” begun the slow unravelling of detail and self-castigation. That moment began my own continuing nausea, like a backward somersault I cannot control. I swing between rage at my son and fury at the damage done by what are called good intentions.
The next day, the police came to his school and arrested him. I arrived as they drove him away, a shrivelled boy sitting behind two armed men. And all that has happened since has been a duller and dirtier knife digging a deeper, nastier wound.
He was jailed for three weeks. I came to visit him that first evening, chill with shock, thinking I was done crying for a while. I brought him the book he was reading. I pressed door buzzers and intercoms, waited behind locked doors, spoke through thick glass windows to distracted guards. The book was denied, without explanation, and the tears came again. When I calmed down, I was given 20 minutes to speak to him.
He came out dressed in ill-fitting work clothes, pale and embarrassed, and we huddled in a crowded room of other parents and other boys, some of them loud and strutting, others silent and withdrawn. I visited every day I was allowed and each time I left he had to go through a strip search. He told me about the other boys, the drive-by shootings, the rapes and the robberies about which they bragged. He told me about recreational drugs I had never heard of. He described R-rated movies he had seen in detention, violent films I had refused to let him see because he was too young. He complained about the food and the boredom, worried about his schoolwork, talked of everything…