Referring to sexual offenders as ‘adults who commit sexual offenses’ is troubling. Here’s why

By Jonathon Van Maren

I am keenly aware of how easy it is, at this stage in the sexual revolution, to produce commentary that seems prone to panic or is designed to provoke anger or fear. But I also think that it is essential, considering the breathtaking and lightning-fast speed of cultural change over the last ten years, to keep our eyes wide open. Remember: We were told for decades that much of what has occurred over the past few years was impossible by the very people working to bring it about. 

With that stated, I would like to draw your attention to a story from a CBS affiliate revealing that the Sex Offender Management Board in Colorado, which sets standards for the state, voted on November 22 to abandon the term “sex offender” to something more “person-first.” From CBS: 

The Sex Offender Management Board, which is made up of everyone from public defenders to prosecutors, sets standards and guidelines for treatment providers so the new terminology will only be used in that context. It doesn’t change the term sex offender in law or the criminal justice system, but some worry it’s a step in that direction. 

“I’m involved today after hearing that it would be improper or offensive in some manner for me to refer to the man who raped me, as a sex offender,” Kimberly Corbin, a rape survivor, told KCNC-TV in Denver. 

Corbin is among those who spoke out against changing the term sex offender to something less stigmatizing, saying labels based on traits people can’t control is one thing. “It’s very, very damaging for those who people who are labeled when it has to do with gender, race, sexuality, ability, but those are not their choices, the biggest thing for me is these are choices that sex offenders make,” she said. 

The Sex Offender Management Board considered several other options, and eventually voted by 10-6 to change the term to “adults who commit sexual offenses.” As Jessica Dotter of the Colorado Attorneys’ Council noted: “I’m concerned that the use of person-first language generally is an intent to remove accountability from offenders and to diminish the experience of the victims.” Supporters of the move argued that eliminating the label would make it easier for perpetrators to move past their crimes to become healthy members of society. 

READ THE REST OF THIS COLUMN HERE

FacebooktwitterFacebooktwitter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *