I have watched many videos posted on Facebook where a trap is set for a sexual predator. I am really torn as to how I feel about this and wonder if others feel the same. Although as a victim of abuse for most of my childhood, I have more reasons than most to want these people caught and stopped in their tracks. I still feel uncomfortable with the way it is being done.
I do not doubt the intentions of the group setting the traps. They are going above and beyond to protect children, but their methods are something I still struggle with.
What does it say about our justice system when ordinary parents can pin these predators down with a bit of effort and very little resources and, yet the Gardaí are unable to do the same.
As far as I am concerned it highlights the complete lack of will of the government to give sexual crimes the attention they deserve and tackle this issue which is widespread.
I do agree that these incidents should be logged, videoed and handed over to police. I do not however, feel social media is an appropriate forum for this material. To me it screams vigilantism and incites violence, it also doesn’t consider the impact this action has on the predator’s innocent family members.
In one of these videos the trapped predator was a 19-year-old boy and to be honest this broke my heart. Although I don’t condone his behaviour, surely there must be a better way to deal with this. The boy looked really troubled which although I know would go hand in hand with being caught, I read it deeper. He looked genuinely confused.
Being caught on social media is not an intervention it is a trap. If young predators are not treated correctly a lot more victims will appear before us in the future. Teenagers are already at a difficult stage in their development, if you add to that, confusion over their sexual identity they are most likely already psychologically on overload. Because the entrapment being posted on social media this child has had all his prospects for any kind of future removed. He will be ridiculed possibly beaten or worse still, killed. What are we creating? What is the benefit to society of destroying a child instead of reaching out and offering him some help. It may very well be that we are creating bigger problems which will impact our society well into the future.
The reality is that for several years there has been a spurt in the amount of young people responsible for sexual abuse. This is frightening and what does it tell us about our systems of response to sexual abuse in this country.
Could it be that these young people are victims acting out? Or could they be continuing learned behaviour? It is not right that we just wipe our hands of them? I know if it was my son I would go to the end of the earth to help him understand and change his behaviour. Ignoring this issue will ensure that we will have to continue to deal with sexual abuse for generations. It is a fact that many adult perpetrators began sexually abusing when they were under the age of 18. If we could have reached them then, god knows how much pain we could have stopped.
Young people who have never shared their pain are at risk of becoming lifelong predators. Can you remember those teenage years in your own life, the utter confusion that enshrouds you? Now imagine if you also had a sexual interest in younger children how would you express that and to who. It is very understandably a huge obstacle to reaching out to someone for help.
Shame is the most debilitating emotion for anyone never mind a child. The attitude of most people when it comes to perpetrators is to murder, castrate or severely punish them. Where would you turn for help as an adult never mind a child.
What is wrong with this country that our own justice system cannot address this issue appropriately and consistently. It is no wonder people are pushed to take the law into their own hands. While I totally understand the frustration, people have with the law. In these cases where these groups set a trap and then advertise where the person lives, works or socialises. No matter how justified we may feel about taking that action it just doesn’t sit right with me. I imagine if the case ever did make it to trial the perpetrator would get off on the grounds that he has already been tried and convicted on social media. Add to that the fact there are no child victims as decoys are used, nothing will have resulted other than the possibility of destroying innocent family members and the possible harm or death of the perpetrator.
Finding Another Way
When my father was sent to prison for the abuse of his daughters we were all delighted. However, if we were in a country that decided he deserved the death penalty none of us would have been happy with that. At the time we felt death would be too easy for him and as death would have meant his suffering ends. In our eyes living would be a lot more painful for him.
There must be a better way to deal with this problem. I have no idea what that is, but I feel this action is only further endangering families, parents, past victims and survivors of abuse, and may drive someone to do something life changing.
One suggestion could be to set up a designated task force for sex crimes alone. The task force should be awarded extra powers to ensure when known predators are caught they immediately are removed from society and placed in a treatment facility or incarcerated so no more children are in danger while they await a court hearing and or sentencing.
It would be more productive to stand together and fight for the rights of our children and demand the government takes this crime seriously with immediate action.
Unfortunately, people tend not to get involved or act until abuse affects their own lives, it pains me that they don’t realise how much it does affect everyone. We strongly believe angry outbursts, addiction and anti-social behaviour are just some of the ways abuse manifests in our society. For some victims it’s their only tool to express their pain. The ripple effect caused by abuse ultimately contributes directly or indirectly to how our communities function.
Sexual abuse can be hard to think about and harder to discuss, but it’s important to address these issues and educate yourself so you can teach your child what to watch out for. Every discussion on the subject of sexual abuse along with every time you listen – you are protecting your child from sexual abuse. We have to find a way to discuss the subject openly if we ever want to eliminate it from our lives.
Joyce- 15th January 2017