This is a new course for StopSO and not surprisingly some queries have arisen. Not all of the answers may be what you hope for, but we believe we are offering the best course we are able to at this point in time.
Why isn’t it free of charge?
- There is no funding available for StopSO to subsidise the course.
- There is a cost to writing the course, administration and delivery of the training.
- The course is being offered at a very low cost.
What is the format of the course?
- The stopso course is 3 x 3h sessions with between 8 – 12 participants
- There is no pre-assessment but delegates are asked to self verify that their partner/family member has not been accused of grooming or contact offending
- There is a lot of information provided in the sessions
- Manual is yours to keep for reference
- Allows time for discussion between participants
What is a contact offender?
For the purposes of our course:
- we are excluding those whose partners have physically touched a child. So terminology such as sexual abuse, sexual assault and rape would be included here.
- We are also excluding those who have been involved in webcam with a child or been involved in sexualised chat with a child. Or attempted to groom a child which may for example lead to meeting or further exploitation.
- Internet offenders who have sexually offended by downloading images or videos of children are included. This is still a serious sexual offence but they have not ‘directly’ or physically assaulted a child (though in order to make the image, someone else has). It is considered that they have ‘indirectly’ offended. And it is often the case that they have no intention of ‘crossing over’ into contact offending. More will be explained in the course.
Why are contact offences excluded?
We understand the pain that partners and family members are suffering. However there are a number of reasons why we have decided not to run mixed groups. These include
- The emotional burden of discussing contact child sex abuse, perpetrated directly by the family member is best done one-to one or in very small and pre-assessed groups. The format of this course is not suitable.
- Participants commonly want to know ‘why’ and the course discusses this. The offence cycle, motivation and personality, for contact offenders usually differs to that for internet offenders. To keep within the time allowed and to remain relevant to each participant would be difficult.
- The consequences of the offence are far more serious to everybody involved. The involvement and response of Children’s Services, the CJS and the sentencing guidelines differ greatly. Each case is very much unique and it would not be possible to generalise.
- There could be a risk involved in discussing ‘ongoing’ cases, especially where the plea may be ‘not guilty’. Participants may share more than is wise and StopSO cannot maintain confidentiality where child safety is at risk (with internet offences, the evidence is available on the devices and pleading guilty is the norm.).
- Participants may also find that they are conflicted by what they have heard and this may cause issues that we are unable to manage.