Project aims to stop po­ten­tial of­fend­ers

Southern Gazette (Belmont) - - NEWS -

A GER­MAN sex­ual abuse pre­ven­tion pro­gram that tar­gets po­ten­tial of­fend­ers be­fore they of­fend could help pro­tect Aus­tralian chil­dren from harm, ac­cord­ing to clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist Christa­bel Chamarette.

Ms Chamarette is part of a com­mit­tee that hosted the 2nd Perth Sym­po­sium – Child Sex­ual Abuse Pre­ven­tion Map­ping the Field – this month, where Dunkelfeld Project founder Klaus Beier was guest speaker.

Pro­fes­sor Beier, in Aus­tralia for the first time, pre­sented to about 90 ex­perts and pro­fes­sion­als who help vic­tims of sex­ual abuse and of­fend­ers on the pro­gram he founded in 2005.

Dunkelfeld started with a se­ries of con­fronting TV and bill­board ad­ver­tise­ments that of­fered free and con­fi­den­tial sup­port to peo­ple who iden­ti­fied they were sex­u­ally at­tracted to chil­dren.

It has now ex­panded to 11 states in Ger­many, with peo­ple able to ac­cess it via phone or email to or­gan­ise a clin­i­cal in­ter­view fol­lowed by an assess­ment.

Prof Beier, who works at the In­sti­tute of Sex­ol­ogy and Sex­ual Medicine in Ber­lin, said if some­one was a “cur­rently de­tected” pae­dophile they would be ex­cluded. He said “no­body chooses their sex­ual pref­er­ence”.

“Pae­dophilia is a di­ag­no­sis, not a crime,” he said.

Prof Beier said the Ger­man pub­lic ac­cepted the Dunkelfeld ap­proach. He said within 10 years they might be able to de­ter­mine a per­son’s sex­ual pref­er­ence us­ing imag­ing tech­niques.

Prof Beier ac­knowl­edged the Dunkelfeld pro­gram worked in Ger­many be­cause it did not have manda­tory re­port­ing of sex­ual abuse laws.

Ms Chamarette said while the manda­tory re­port­ing laws pre­vented Aus­tralia from in­tro­duc­ing the Dunkelfeld pro­gram in full, it was no ex­cuse to do noth­ing.

“We need to change the con­ver­sa­tion from pun­ish­ment to how can we keep our chil­dren safe through pre­ven­ta­tive pro­grams,” she said.

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