Re­lease dates for Kriégel killers

There are re­sources out there to help par­ents con­founded about how to speak with their chil­dren about sex and porn, writes Dr Caro­line West

Irish Examiner - - Front Page - Ali­son O’Riordan

The teenage boy who mur­dered and sex­u­ally as­saulted 14-year-old Ana Kriégel will not be re­leased un­til June 2031 at the ear­li­est, the Cen­tral Crim­i­nal Court has heard.

The ear­li­est re­lease date for his ac­com­plice, who lured the “lonely and vul­ner­a­ble” school­girl to an aban­doned farm­house and watched as she was vi­o­lently sex­u­ally as­saulted, is in June 2027.

The boys, now aged 15, will be de­tained at Ober­stown de­ten­tion cen­tre for young of­fend­ers un­til they turn 18, when they will be moved to an adult pri­son. Mr Jus­tice Paul McDer­mott also or­dered that pro­ba­tion, gov­er­nor, and ed­u­ca­tion re­ports be pre­pared ev­ery two years for the ben­e­fit of the re­view­ing court, once they are re­leased from Ober­stown and placed in cus­tody.

At yes­ter­day’s brief hear­ing, Mr Jus­tice McDer­mott said he wanted the court to be kept fully in­formed about the boys’ progress and de­vel­op­ment in cus­tody.

“This is not in­tended for the pur­poses of mi­cro-man­ag­ing the sen­tenc­ing and is not to be viewed as such,” he said.

He said that, af­ter the boys’ first pe­riod in de­ten­tion, they will be trans­ferred to an adult fa­cil­ity at 18 years and six months.

Re­ports on their en­gage­ment with ed­u­ca­tional, psy­cho­log­i­cal, and psy­chi­atric ser­vices would be of as­sis­tance to those tak­ing over their cus­tody, he said. There should also be a plan for their fur­ther de­vel­op­ment while in pri­son.

The Ana Kriegel case is over­whelm­ing — in its bru­tal­ity, its cru­elty, its sheer vol­ume of re­ported porno­graphic images, its con­nec­tion to so­cial me­dia stars who are cham­pi­oned by the far right, and its misog­yny. It is dif­fi­cult to breach the hor­ror of what those boys choose to do to Ana.

It is painful to write in such a con­text. But Ire­land has an in­glo­ri­ous his­tory of a cy­cle of hor­ror — a case hap­pens, we are hor­ri­fied, then we do noth­ing. Un­til the next case, the next pub­lic hand­wring­ing. Then si­lence again. How many times do we have to do this un­til we sys­tem­at­i­cally ad­dress vi­o­lence and misog­yny in Ir­ish so­ci­ety? When is enough re­ally enough?

We rush to find a tar­get of blame to avoid hav­ing this con­ver­sa­tion on ev­ery level of so­ci­ety. This time, the blame is on pornog­ra­phy. As if pornog­ra­phy is the sole spec­tre loom­ing over our chil­dren, wait­ing to turn them on to a life of vi­o­lence and de­prav­ity. Es­tab­lish­ing a sin­gu­lar tar­get of blame may soothe our shock and hor­ror, but it is a band-aid that cov­ers up the in-depth con­ver­sa­tions we keep avoid­ing. Pornog­ra­phy seems to be one of the few top­ics that we do not seem to need facts and ev­i­dence for in or­der to make uni­ver­sal­is­tic claims about its con­tent and im­pact. A his­tor­i­cally ‘dirty’ sub­ject, pornog­ra­phy and the study of it is of­ten a quag­mire of opin­ions, myths, moral panic and scan­dal.

How can we pos­si­bly ex­pect par­ents to nav­i­gate all of this and have these con­ver­sa­tions with their chil­dren? Telling par­ents to sim­ply ‘talk to your kids’ doesn’t work, the same way say­ing ‘don’t watch porn’ does not work for young peo­ple. Par­ents of­ten had in­ad­e­quate sex ed­u­ca­tion them­selves and grew up in a time be­fore smart phones and con­stant in­ter­net ac­cess. We need to en­gage on a deeper level and of­fer mean­ing­ful sup­port if we are re­ally in­ter­ested in ad­dress­ing this.

There are op­tions. These op­tions are all devel­oped by peo­ple who have ex­ten­sive qual­i­fi­ca­tions in the area of sex, sex­u­al­ity, and ed­u­ca­tion, and are in­formed by facts and an ev­i­dence-based ap­proach. They also adopt a com­pas­sion­ate ap­proach that recog­nises that par­ents can ben­e­fit from sup­port and that fear can sti­fle con­ver­sa­tions.

In Ire­land, the Foroige Real U pro­gramme ad­dresses pornog­ra­phy with 12-18 year olds. This pro­gramme was de­signed in con­sul­ta­tion with groups such as the Rape Cri­sis Net­work and the HSE Cri­sis Preg­nancy pro­gramme. This work is sit­u­ated in the con­text of un­der­stand­ing re­la­tion­ships and healthy bound­aries, with an em­pha­sis on build­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills. In a re­view in 2013, 98% of the young peo­ple who have par­tic­i­pated in this pro­gramme rated it pos­i­tively.

Also in Ire­land, oc­cu­pa­tional ther­a­pist Sarah Sproule works to sup­port par­ents to talk to their chil­dren about sex. She recog­nises that while this may be an awk­ward con­ver­sa­tion for many, it is a nec­es­sary one, and she works to build par­ents’ skills and com­fort lev­els. She can be found at sarah­sproule.com and of­ten runs work­shops.

There are some good on­line re­sources too. The­p­orn­con­ver­sa­tion.org out­lines age-ap­pro­pri­ate lev­els of con­ver­sa­tions that par­ents can have with their chil­dren, in a calm, holis­tic way. The site fea­tures videos and ar­ti­cles aimed at sup­port­ing par­ents of chil­dren from un­der 11 to 15-plus.

The Na­tional So­ci­ety for the Preven­tion of Cru­elty to Chil­dren (nspcc.org.uk) also has ex­cel­lent ad­vice on sup­port­ing young peo­ple around healthy re­la­tion­ships, pornog­ra­phy, and sex ed­u­ca­tion in gen­eral. It also of­fers sup­port for par­ents in how to spot if some­thing feels wrong and how to have these con­ver­sa­tions.

Ad­di­tion­ally, break­ingth­e­hush­fac­tor.com of­fers a book on con­ver­sa­tions about sex ed­u­ca­tion for teenagers that can be pur­chased or ex­changed for a do­na­tion. This book is writ­ten by Dr Karen Rayne who is a sex­u­al­ity pro­fes­sional with over two decades of ex­pe­ri­ence. The site also pro­vides free con­tent about speak­ing to teenagers about sex via email.

In these re­sources, par­ents can hope­fully find a style that works for them and their chil­dren, and which sup­ports them to fa­cil­i­tate these con­ver­sa­tions.

Books such as We Need to Talk About Pornog­ra­phy are also eas­ily avail­able on on­line book re­tail­ers. It is im­por­tant to sit­u­ate these con­ver­sa­tions in the con­text of con­sent as this is a fun­da­men­tal part of the pornog­ra­phy in­dus­try. Top­ics such as ‘re­venge pornog­ra­phy’ are a dif­fer­ent con­ver­sa­tion not be con­flated with con­sen­sual adult pornog­ra­phy filmed in the pornog­ra­phy in­dus­try.

Ad­dress­ing pornog­ra­phy is one mea­sure to sup­port young peo­ple. It is not the sole mea­sure. We are no longer liv­ing in an Ire­land that sto­ically main­tains si­lence over sex. These con­ver­sa­tions are cry­ing out to hap­pen, and there is now sup­port avail­able to fa­cil­i­tate them.

We are now in the fourth round of the na­tional con­ver­sa­tion on pornog­ra­phy that Enda Kenny called for in 2016, and not much has changed since the first round. It is beyond hyp­o­crit­i­cal that politi­cians want us to have these con­ver­sa­tions with­out fund­ing sup­port ser­vices that help make these con­ver­sa­tions hap­pen. If pornog­ra­phy is to be ad­dressed in the new sex ed­u­ca­tion cur­ricu­lum that is be­ing pro­posed, it must be done so by trained pro­fes­sion­als who foster crit­i­cal think­ing skills rather than shame and stigma. Sup­port­ing par­ents can­not be for­got­ten ei­ther.

How much longer are we go­ing to choose to per­pet­u­ate the cy­cle of ou­trage and si­lence rather than choose to put solid mea­sures in place to con­sis­tently sup­port young peo­ple? Ire­land has a lot of work to do to heal from cen­turies of trauma around sex, sex­u­al­ity and shame. While ad­dress­ing pornog­ra­phy is one as­pect of this, this is a wider con­ver­sa­tion that can­not be re­stricted to once-off con­ver­sa­tions shaped by fear and knee-jerk re­ac­tions.

■ Dr Caro­line West is a lec­turer and re­searcher in sex­u­al­ity stud­ies in DCU.

“Ire­land has an in­glo­ri­ous his­tory of a cy­cle of hor­ror — a case hap­pens, we are hor­ri­fied, then we do noth­ing

Ana Kriégel’s killers will not be freed un­til 2031 and 2027.

Pic­tures: Collins

Mes­sages and flo­ral trib­utes left on the Clonee Rd, Lu­can, at the en­trance to the derelict farm­house where the body of Ana Kriégel was found, left; Ana’s par­ents, Pa­tric and Geraldine Kriégel, leave court af­ter this week’s sen­tenc­ing hear­ing for the two teenagers con­victed of her mur­der, above; School­girl Ana Kriégel, right, whose teenage killers will not be re­leased from de­ten­tion un­til 2031 and 2027 re­spec­tively, the Cen­tral Crim­i­nal Court heard this week. The pair will be held at Ober­stown de­ten­tion cen­tre un­til their trans­fer to adult pri­son af­ter the age of 18.

Telling par­ents to sim­ply ‘talk to your kids’ doesn’t work, the same way say­ing ‘don’t watch porn’ does not work for young peo­ple.

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