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

Post by Cittasanto »

Yana wrote:..i think you'd be surprised...some people are into "kids"..even "acting or dressing up like a kid" gets their attention...i don't rule out anything anymore..given the right conditions anything's possible.. :( am sad.
Hi Yana,
Have you read the thread?
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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

Post by admiraljim »

I used to work in the world of psychiatry, unfortunately I think part of the problem is the tendency to over-medicalise what the offenders have done to the point where I have seen a complete denial of what they have done. I have seen it get to the point where it is so ridiculous that some people get irritated that they have been prosecuted!
Unfortunately there is a lot of amateur psychology that goes on when discussing these things. For instance the belief in the cycle of abuse - this is easy to disprove as woman and girls are disproportionatley affected, yet most sex offenders are male - this alone does not bear up to scrutiny.
I am afraid the buddhist path does not offer much in terms of how we can rehabilitate offenders - neither does modern psychiatry or psychology to be honest. This leaves it up to the legal system to both punish and try to change offenders - something that I think is almost underplayed in Buddhist circles is the role of punishment. I think this is dangerous as if society feels offenders are not suitably punished it could undermine the social order. This is why humanity gave birth to such legal things in the first place - the tricky thing is finding balance.
The place of buddhism in all this is trying to find a sense of peace with the fact these people and their victims are in out society and while we may not be able to conjure up compassion for offenders at the very least we can do no harm.

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

Post by carlosm »

Buckwheat wrote:
Buckwheat wrote:As a victim of abuse, they are going to be on my mind. While I recognize my role in choosing to focus on the issue, I am not yet strong enough to keep my focus elsewhere.
Shortly after this post, I found out that my older cousin, who abused me, died of liver failure. This brought on a whole slew of emotions for me. After a difficult week, including other personal difficulties, much insomnia, and some immature posts on DW, I finally sat down two days ago and had a decent meditation. Shortly after sitting, I had a vision that seemed abstract at first, but soon realized it was my grandfathers living room (he died about 15 years ago). After me prompting him to speak, he told me to forgive my cousin. I responded, "I forgive you." and immediate felt a huge wave of relief flood throughout my body and mind. Soon I felt relieved, not limited by anger and confusion, liberated to embrace my current situation.

My point in sharing this is that forgiving people and having compassion for them is not only for the benefit of the person being forgiven, but also for the benefit of the person doing the forgiving. Next time we feel anger and frustration with criminals, let us realize that the most powerful thing we can do is forgive. Anger and blame limit our own capabilities to relinquish suffering.

May all sentient beings live in peace, safe and happy. :heart:
Thank you for writing this beautiful text, I would keep it in mind when my compassion is not strong and I refuse to forgive.

May all sentient beings live in peace, safe and happy.

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

Post by Buckwheat »

admiraljim wrote:I used to work in the world of psychiatry, unfortunately I think part of the problem is the tendency to over-medicalise what the offenders have done to the point where I have seen a complete denial of what they have done. I have seen it get to the point where it is so ridiculous that some people get irritated that they have been prosecuted!
Unfortunately there is a lot of amateur psychology that goes on when discussing these things. For instance the belief in the cycle of abuse - this is easy to disprove as woman and girls are disproportionatley affected, yet most sex offenders are male - this alone does not bear up to scrutiny.
I am afraid the buddhist path does not offer much in terms of how we can rehabilitate offenders - neither does modern psychiatry or psychology to be honest. This leaves it up to the legal system to both punish and try to change offenders - something that I think is almost underplayed in Buddhist circles is the role of punishment. I think this is dangerous as if society feels offenders are not suitably punished it could undermine the social order. This is why humanity gave birth to such legal things in the first place - the tricky thing is finding balance.
The place of buddhism in all this is trying to find a sense of peace with the fact these people and their victims are in out society and while we may not be able to conjure up compassion for offenders at the very least we can do no harm.
If you read this thread, I don't think anybody is proposing we skip prison for sex offenders. This thread is more about the attitude with which we approach this terrible situation.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.

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

Post by admiraljim »

I said Buddhist circles, not anyone on this particular thread.

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

Post by equilibrium »

I have not read the entire thread but based on the title itself, it is quite simple to answer:

The problem with this question is the last part "child abuser", if one were to take out this part, it would be very simple indeed. Compassion should be boundless and it comes from the person reading the question itself.

Now if you add the last part, it creates a "division" or a "barrier" if you like, it is this barrier which tries to "blame" and impose responsibility for the doer.....these barriers are self created in the mind which do not exist.....

What is more important is what has happened has happened and it cannot be changed.....in addition, you do want to help the child abuser to learn to improve oneself rather than seeking revenge on the matter......

Compassion comes from within, why should barriers exist in the first place?.....Barriers are created by the self and are self created limitations.

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

Post by manas »

Buckwheat wrote:
If you read this thread, I don't think anybody is proposing we skip prison for sex offenders. This thread is more about the attitude with which we approach this terrible situation.
You are right on there, Buckwheat. The intention I also have is to find peace in my heart to the extent that when I hear about yet another young life impacted by this terrible crime, that I don't have to also let anger (or hatred) spill over in my heart. Even the offenders that are never caught, I would prefer to not hate, because of what that hatred does to me (makes me feel sick).

Actually locking them up is the compassionate thing to do for all concerned; not only does it protect potential new victims (for a while, anyway), it also protects the sex offender from him or herself, in that they can't harm any more kids and thus accumulate even more of that particularly dark kamma (for a while, anyway).

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

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seeker242
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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Post by seeker242 »

I would say by contemplating the suffering that the person brings on themselves for acting in a way that is harmful to others. And also to contemplate the state of suffering they are in, in order to engage in such acts to begin with. The victims of crime obviously suffer. The perpetrators of the crime will also suffer, probably more than the victims. This perpetrator suffering is inevitable.

John C. Kimbrough
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Re: How can we have compassion for child abusers?

Post by John C. Kimbrough »

Wow......An interesting question and one that is very difficult to answer, in my opinion...........I think that we can and should....but, we perhaps should have understanding that the one or ones who were abused will not have the same view. I was abused at the age of 13 years, 9 months. The abuser was a well - respected minister in my neighborhood. I have dealt with the effects of that throughout my life. The effects included drug/substance abuse and time in prison among other things that did not enlighten me (interestingly the time spent in prison, though at the time unpleasent was/has been an enlightening experience within the context of my whole life).......There were other problems regarding relationships and sexual encounters, anger, confusion, etc.,etc., Some people, sobriety, the realization of dreams, new experiences, travelling, Yoga, Buddhism, meditation, teaching, writing, volunteer and charity work in Cambodia have all brought me to a new and wiser and more enlightened state.......In some respects I feel a degree of aversion (not much compassion there) for those who cover up these horrendous crimes and actions........

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

Post by Buckwheat »

John,
Thanks for your very honest post. However,
John C. Kimbrough wrote:In some respects I feel a degree of aversion (not much compassion there) for those who cover up these horrendous crimes and actions........
I am in no way condoning any sort of "cover up" for abusers.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.

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