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
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.
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.