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Child-Maltreatment-Research-L (CMRL) List Serve

Database of Past CMRL Messages

Welcome to the database of past Child-Maltreatment-Research-L (CMRL) list serve messages. The table below contains all past CMRL messages (text only, no attachments) from Nov. 20, 1996 - March 6, 2018 and is updated quarterly.

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Message ID: 8177
Date: 2009-05-28

Author:D F MCMAHON

Subject:RE: Are Therapists Potentially Dangerous?

The account about the cognitively-impaired adolescents in sex offender treatment struck a chord, and what it makes me think about is the role of general perspective and judgment in situations that are basically determined by expert or clinical judgment. A juvenile I know of demonstrated cognitive impairment attributed by a neuropsychologist to a severe language-based learning disability. He was housed in a "satellite home"--a group home associated with a correctional facility, where he had been placed as the result of a series of minor crimes while in long-term foster placement (he'd never received appropriate educational services, for what it's worth). A new resident in the group home, a victim of sexual abuse, initiated group sexual activity which all boys in the home participated before the house parents (whose bedroom was on a different floor) realized what was happened. Because the new resident was the youngest child, he became the identified victim while the others were identified perpetrators. The young man with the cognitive impairment was convicted of a felony which could be downgraded to a misdemeanor given a clean record and completion of sex offender treatment. His father had him evaluated in a hospital-based rehab center that evaluates children with all types of disabilities. The recommendations were rehabilitation-based and centered around the boy's history and identified impairments. They included a recommendation for sex offender treatment that would not be based on, essentially, verbal processes such as Ken Little describes, along with general socialization--since the boy had essentially lived in institutional same-sex placements for a long time. Of course, none of this took place, and although there were never any recurrences of sex offenses, the young man proceeded through several years of jail, long-term drug/alcohol treatment, and so forth, and continues to do so. I would point out, tangentially, that not making an appropriate program available to sex offenders (for example) who have cognitive impairments curtailing their ability to participate in/have equal access to the regular program (and my understanding is that the verbal/cognitive emphasis in sex offender treatment is standard) could be considered a form of discrimination under ADA Title II. But to remedy such situations would require legal action on behalf of a class of individuals who are very unlikely to have such action undertaken on their behalf. There also appear to be food chains within systems of care and treatment--using the term "systems of care" rather loosely. As a non-clinician (parent of child with impairments, advocate through both established organizations and ad hoc) my persistent experience has been that the complicated dynamics involving different agencies, professional status, "chain-of command status," politics, and personalities within "teams" allegedly focused on the needs or interests of the child (I've never seen this rise to the level of family as the identified focus) are almost always overwhelming. I don't know how the experience is for the professionals involved, but I would suggest that "dangerousness" can involve the group dynamics within the systems involved--and somehow a lack of perspective and overall judgment. Sheri McMahon > From: ken-little@worldnet.att.net > To: child-maltreatment-research-l@list.cornell.edu > CC: jmpolstra@att.net > Subject: RE: Are Therapists Potentially Dangerous? > Date: Wed, 27 May 2009 21:24:10 -0400 >

The account about the cognitively-impaired adolescents in sex offender treatment struck a chord, and what it makes me think about is the role of general perspective and judgment in situations that are basically determined by expert or clinical judgment. A juvenile I know of demonstrated cognitive impairment attributed by a neuropsychologist to a severe language-based learning disability. He was housed in a "satellite home"--a group home associated with a correctional facility, where he had been placed as the result of a series of minor crimes while in long-term foster placement (he'd never received appropriate educational services, for what it's worth). A new resident in the group home, a victim of sexual abuse, initiated group sexual activity which all boys in the home participated before the house parents (whose bedroom was on a different floor) realized what was happened. Because the new resident was the youngest child, he became the identified victim while the others were identified perpetrators. The young man with the cognitive impairment was convicted of a felony which could be downgraded to a misdemeanor given a clean record and completion of sex offender treatment. His father had him evaluated in a hospital-based rehab center that evaluates children with all types of disabilities. The recommendations were rehabilitation-based and centered around the boy's history and identified impairments. They included a recommendation for sex offender treatment that would not be based on, essentially, verbal processes such as Ken Little describes, along with general socialization--since the boy had essentially lived in institutional same-sex placements for a long time. Of course, none of this took place, and although there were never any recurrences of sex offenses, the young man proceeded through several years of jail, long-term drug/alcohol treatment, and so forth, and continues to do so. I would point out, tangentially, that not making an appropriate program available to sex offenders (for example) who have cognitive impairments curtailing their ability to participate in/have equal access to the regular program (and my understanding is that the verbal/cognitive emphasis in sex offender treatment is standard) could be considered a form of discrimination under ADA Title II. But to remedy such situations would require legal action on behalf of a class of individuals who are very unlikely to have such action undertaken on their behalf. There also appear to be food chains within systems of care and treatment--using the term "systems of care" rather loosely. As a non-clinician (parent of child with impairments, advocate through both established organizations and ad hoc) my persistent experience has been that the complicated dynamics involving different agencies, professional status, "chain-of command status," politics, and personalities within "teams" allegedly focused on the needs or interests of the child (I've never seen this rise to the level of family as the identified focus) are almost always overwhelming. I don't know how the experience is for the professionals involved, but I would suggest that "dangerousness" can involve the group dynamics within the systems involved--and somehow a lack of perspective and overall judgment. Sheri McMahon > From: ken-littleworldnet.att.net > To: child-maltreatment-research-llist.cornell.edu > CC: jmpolstraatt.net > Subject: RE: Are Therapists Potentially Dangerous? > Date: Wed, 27 May 2009 21:24:10 -0400 >