Under the Surface Note on Four Discussions about Sexual Offending
Throughout the first twenty years of TDI's existence, we have found that a number of themes have come round repeatedly, generating great debate in the media and amongst the public, often when a particular case has brought a question to the fore.
The sexualisation of children, the causes of offending, what should be done with people who have committed serious sex crimes, whether people should know when a registered sex offender is living on their street, are serious sex offenders ill, what makes a child become an abuser, how can the authorities be sure that somebody coming out of prison is not going to reoffend - all these issues are debated in homes, pubs, TV discussion programmes, radio phone-ins and newspapers. Sometimes public debate becomes so heated and so polarised that politicians feel obliged to try and do something. Sometimes the professionals who work with sex offenders are vehemently opposed to the steps that politicians take, and sometimes the gulf between professional and public opinion is too great to bridge.
The idea of Under the Surface was to take four of these perennial questions and to gather a small group of people with different backgrounds and experiences, professional and lay, for an evening's discussion to share views, to bridge gaps in understanding, and if possible to seek any practical steps, however small, which might be explored to make a difference. The discussions would be held in private, without media present, and in a spirit of openness. Any resulting sensible ideas would then be presented to relevant decision-makers. We would also look to turn good ideas into action.