Project aims to stop potential offenders
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.