The program works because it holds the men accountable and helps them manage their triggers long after they have committed an offence, Feick says, adding some pedophiles he works with don’t want to reoffend because it would let their circle down.“We’re not here to let them make excuses or justify anything they’ve done; we recognize that there are some terrible things that they’ve done,” he says.“But there’s still hope for all of them.” PEDOPHILIA AND OFFENDINGNot all pedophiles offend, but researchers don’t know much about them because they don’t usually show up in clinics or the criminal justice system, says Dr.
Michael Seto, a psychologist specializing in pedophilia who serves as director of forensic rehabilitation research at the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group in Brockville, Ont. Offending is a choice,” says Michael Nolin, a Saskatoon lawyer who has defended clients in child porn and child sex assault cases. He says studies show life experiences, such as childhood sexual abuse, do not cause pedophilia, but they may contribute to sexual offending.
The circles gather once a week, sometimes in a coffee shop, church or the Micah Mission’s humble, sparsely-decorated meeting room, where, on a sunny day in July, Feick chatted with Co SA volunteer Randy Klassen. The support group is 75 per cent to 80 per cent effective at keeping members from reoffending, according to Feick.
They say the circle discussions are serious and pointed, but often informal. In his five years with the Micah Mission, he says he’s only known one man to reoffend.
TREATMENT Pedophilia is on a spectrum — ranging from pedophiles who are only sexually attracted to children to non-exclusive pedophiles who are sexually attracted to both adults and children.
Many of the men he works with have wives, Feick says.
Each support circle is comprised of volunteers, and some may have once been at the centre of the circle themselves.
Volunteers offer different perspectives on staying crime-free in the community, with the hope that by gaining trust and friendships, the men will be less likely to reoffend. Co SA is not a treatment program or a mandated parole or probation condition; while it may be suggested by probation or parole officers, it’s still completely voluntary.
Feick is the co-ordinator of the Micah Mission, an organization that partners with local church members to offer restorative justice programs including Circles of Support and Accountability (Co SA).It’s easier to treat non-exclusive pedophiles because you can focus their attention on age-appropriate relationships, Seto explains.Treating exclusive pedophiles who don’t have any other sexual interests is a greater challenge.His current treatment approach uses cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) — teaching pedophiles more effective ways of coping with their thoughts and feelings.“(They’re) going to have those thoughts and feelings, that’s understandable given that (they) have that attraction, but let’s not let it snowball into ruminating about it, trying to set up situations where you might offend,” Seto says.Treatment also involves gaining insight into offending, says Dr.