How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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manas
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How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Post by manas »

EDIT: When I wrote this, I was obviously affected by the news article I had read, and used some emotive terms, which seem to have provoked some reaction from some persons. For the record:

1. Maybe I should have titled it differently, and said 'persons who have abused children' rather than 'child abusers', as to affix a label to someone, as if that label defines who they intrinsically are, is false.

2. They are not 'monsters', rather thay are merely immoral and/or unwell human beings.

Thank you for reading.

______________________________________________________________________________________

This is not an easy subject. So, read at your own risk. But I made the mistake of reading the news again, and as per usual, am upset by an article I read:

http://www.theage.com.au/world/staff-re ... 1retx.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I have compassion even for the tiniest creature. I was stung by a wasp recently, and as soon as I had brushed it out from my clothes, I shouted to the kids, "don't kill it!". I let the insect out the window. But I cannot have compassion for the human monsters who either kill, torture or sexually abuse children. I had better not state in this Buddhist forum what i think such monsters deserve, as it is more severe than the meagre punishments these scum are usually given by the lax legal system.

manas.
Last edited by manas on Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:48 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Dan74
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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Post by Dan74 »

Perhaps by recognizing that there are no such things are "child abusers" but causes and conditions that lead to committing such an act.

I don't mean to excuse this behaviour or imply that it is anything other than heinous. Just that there is no such thing as "essence of child abuser", no self of a child abuser that is different to you or me. What is different is their kamma and kamma is constantly changing just like everything else.

So there is nothing really there to pin our hate onto. The hate or lack of compassion is ours and ours alone.
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perkele
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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Post by perkele »

A generic answer from the Tipitaka:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; (Aghatavina Sutta - subduing hatred)
"There are these five ways of subduing hatred by which, when hatred arises in a monk, he should wipe it out completely. Which five?

"When one gives birth to hatred for an individual, one should develop good will for that individual. Thus the hatred for that individual should be subdued.

"When one gives birth to hatred for an individual, one should develop compassion for that individual. Thus the hatred for that individual should be subdued.

"When one gives birth to hatred for an individual, one should develop equanimity toward that individual. Thus the hatred for that individual should be subdued.

"When one gives birth to hatred for an individual, one should pay him no mind & pay him no attention. Thus the hatred for that individual should be subdued.

"When one gives birth to hatred for an individual, one should direct one's thoughts to the fact of his being the product of his actions: 'This venerable one is the doer of his actions, heir to his actions, born of his actions, related by his actions, and has his actions as his arbitrator. Whatever action he does, for good or for evil, to that will he fall heir.' Thus the hatred for that individual should be subdued.

"These are five ways of subduing hatred by which, when hatred arises in a monk, he should wipe it out completely."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; (Upajjhatthana Sutta - subjects for contemplation):
"'I am the owner of my actions,[1] heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator. Whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir.' ...

"These are the five facts that one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained."

...

"A disciple of the noble ones considers this: 'I am not the only one who is owner of my actions, heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator; who — whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir. To the extent that there are beings — past and future, passing away and re-arising — all beings are the owner of their actions, heir to their actions, born of their actions, related through their actions, and have their actions as their arbitrator. Whatever they do, for good or for evil, to that will they fall heir.' When he/she often reflects on this, the [factors of the] path take birth. He/she sticks with that path, develops it, cultivates it. As he/she sticks with that path, develops it and cultivates it, the fetters are abandoned, the obsessions destroyed."

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Cittasanto
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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Post by Cittasanto »

well I know a person who was locked up for downloading child pornography, and one of them told me when I asked why said "I got addicted to porn, and the longer I looked for it the more sick it got' it is simple going from bad to worse, in that instance.

but I don't know how anyone could find a young child attractive in such a way, or want to hurt them??? it does boggle my mind, but just like I have been violent and been to prison for it, these were something done not who and what I am, so maybe these people are likewise the product of their conditioning, of inappropriate attention, and the three defilements which cause unskilled actions? maybe they are brain damaged in some way? mentally unstable with distorted perceptions?

the acts are not who they are, but have they been given the appropriate support to break free from this sort of blameworthy behaviour? saying the punishment doesn't fit the crime is well and good, but does the system support re-offending or rehabilitation?
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Buckwheat
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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Post by Buckwheat »

This kind of compassion is recognizing that he has terrible psychological demons he needs to deal with. What we wish for is that he learns to deal with them in a healthy way so that he can end the cycle of perversion and violence. It is only with that realization that he will stop being a molestor in this lifetime or the next. Then, once he drops the "evil molestor" kamma, we hope that he goes on to become a stream-enterer. Maybe in a few lifetimes he could be my dhamma teacher. If you don't wish for his recovery, you may miss the opportunity to study dhamma under a great sage. You never know, look at how Angulimala turned out.

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Goofaholix
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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Post by Goofaholix »

The child abuser is a victim of causality too, we can have compassion for him for just that much.

I think we owe it to the victims and potential future victims to stop him from doing it again by any means necessary.

Not preventing the abuser from doing it again is not only allowing him to hurt others it's allowing him to hurt himself, that wouldn't be a compassionate response.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

Buckwheat
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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Post by Buckwheat »

Goofaholix wrote:Not preventing the abuser from doing it again is not only allowing him to hurt others it's allowing him to hurt himself, that wouldn't be a compassionate response.
Yes. :anjali:
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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala »

Maybe I am a pervert — I have more compassion for evil doers than for good people.

Due to their evil kamma in previous lives, such sexual deviants are reborn in families with abusive parents. While growing up, they don't learn about normal human affection and kindness. As they become adults, they abuse other in turn, perpetuating the vicious psycle (sic).

If they are caught, they get imprisoned and abused by the other prisoners. On their death they are very likely to be reborn in hell. If, due to some good kamma, they are eventually reborn in the human realm again, they again get reborn as the children of abusive parents, and/or go to a school where they have an abusive teacher.

How and when will they ever get free from the cycle of suffering?
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cooran
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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Post by cooran »

Hello all,

This might be of interest:

Misperceptions about child sex offenders
Kelly Richards ISSN 1836-2206 Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, September 2011

This paper addresses five common misperceptions about the perpetrators of sexual offences against children.
Specifically, the issues addressed include:
whether all child sex offenders are ‘paedophiles’, who sexually abuse children,
whether most child sex offenders were victims of sexual abuse themselves,
rates of recidivism among child sex offenders and
the number of children sex offenders typically abuse before they are detected by police.
http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/curr ... di429.aspx" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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retrofuturist
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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings,
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:I have more compassion for evil doers than for good people.
Well, since compassion is directed to where there is suffering, I would be inclined to agree.

(More mudita for the good people, of course...)

Metta,
Retro. :)
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"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

"Overcome the liar by truth." (Dhp 223)

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manas
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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Post by manas »

Thank you all for the considered responses. I should explain again that persons like myself should not read the news. I just read an article about the torture - it is really bad - of farm animals in an abbattoir right here in Australia. We should know our limitations. Right now I am finding all the suffering and cruelty being inflicted on helpless beings - it is really happening - quite upsetting. I won't post a link to the torture of the poor animals, if anyone is a glutton for punishment they can easily google it.

Our compassion to child abusers should not exclude locking them up for a time, the length depending on the severity of the crime. Children need to be protected. I know I am speaking from the standpoint of the 'relative world', but there you go. I'm sorry about my obvious anger yesterday, where I seemed to be suggesting doing something awful to the perpetrators. No, that would only make us perpetrators also. We should just put them in prison. I do lament how it is often hard to get them reported, or then convicted, or then sentenced for long enough. Children don't vote, you see. They are not a power base in society. I have read of many instances where child abuse results in a 'slap on the wrist' for the offender - and as Bhante pointed out, a broken life for the child, whose normal development into adulthood has been thwarted. If i may correct one common misconception, however - actually most people who are abused, don't go on to abuse others. Furthermore, not all of those who abuse, were abused themselves as kids, either! But this is a Buddhist forum, so enough on that.

There is cruelty everywhere. From the Buddhist perspective we should cultivate compassion for all, both the ones doing the hurting, and those being hurt. From the societal perspective, those who harm others must be dealt with appropriately, sentenced, imprisoned, etc. I think we need both perspectives. (I know no-one is advocating just letting those who abuse kids off 'scot free', I'm just sayin'.)


Maybe I will have to contemplate that 'all beings are heirs to their kamma', and this might be how I learn to cope with the pain and suffering around me. I see so much of it. There is war, torture, abuse of the vulnerable, you name it. It is sad, and I can't intellectualize it away right now. I wish I could do more to help, but the reality is that I'm just one person, and I'm struggling just to take care of myself and my kids right now, I've got my own issues. This life is nuts.

Thanks for all the responses.
"A disciple of the noble ones considers this: 'I am not the only one who is owner of my actions, heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator; who — whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir. To the extent that there are beings — past and future, passing away and re-arising — all beings are the owner of their actions, heir to their actions, born of their actions, related through their actions, and have their actions as their arbitrator. Whatever they do, for good or for evil, to that will they fall heir.'
metta.

:anjali:
To the Buddha-refuge i go; to the Dhamma-refuge i go; to the Sangha-refuge i go.

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ground
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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Post by ground »

How come you think that one has to have compassion for child abusers? There is not need to have compassion. However ill-will, hate, anger are unwholesome.

Kind regards

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fig tree
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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Post by fig tree »

Preventing criminals from going on to do further or worse crimes seems like one of the most helpful things we can do for them.

Fig Tree

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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Post by Buckwheat »

TMingyur wrote:How come you think that one has to have compassion for child abusers? There is not need to have compassion.
The metta sutta teaches us to have goodwill and compassion for all living beings, even those we would be tempted to hate. This does not mean wishing they find more victims to satisfy a perverse desire, but a willingness to help them get the help they need so that they can drop those perverse desires. Child abuse is so severe that it is likely to require multiple lifetimes, but it is worth striving to make it happen here and now. Of course, this involves some serious prison time in this lifetime.
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ground
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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Post by ground »

Buckwheat wrote:
TMingyur wrote:How come you think that one has to have compassion for child abusers? There is not need to have compassion.
The metta sutta teaches us to have goodwill and compassion for all living beings, even those we would be tempted to hate.
This may be an appropriate antidot if needed, yes.

Kind regards

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