Sexual offending is unacceptable. It leads to a great deal of pain and suffering, and can have long-term negative consequences for the victims, their families and the community.
It also negatively impacts the person responsible for the offending, and the people connected to them. We need to take steps to stop this sort of offending so that communities and those people responsible for past offences can lead positive, safe and
There are many people, agencies and organisations committed to helping child sex offenders stop offending. They work with offenders and with each other to help make sure offenders get the support and monitoring they need to reduce the chances of them offending, and to help make sure the community is safe from their offending.
As a support person, you will play a very important part in helping this person stop offending against children.
A Support Planning Meeting (SPM) creates a support network and a safety plan to increase the chances of a person living an offence-free life and therefore help keep the community safe.
The purpose of an SPM is to establish a support network and safety plan for the person that involves agencies in the community (Police, Corrections and Child, Youth and Family) as well as the people in their life who support them (ie, support people).
The safety plan addresses any Court/Parole Board-directed conditions and includes strategies that the support network thinks will assist the person to lead an offence-free lifestyle. The plan helps ensure that they are adequately supported and monitored throughout their sentence and afterwards to increase their chances of an offence-free future.
Talk to the Probation Officer or others involved in the Support Planning Meeting for more information. They will tell you what you need to know, including where you need to be and when you need to be there.
Who is a support person?
A support person can be anyone who the offender trusts, who knows about that person’s child sex offending history, and who is willing to help that person live an offence-free life in the community.
They also have a specific role in Support Planning Meetings and are essential for an effective support network as the professionals involved generally have less frequent contact with the offender in the community.
What will I need to do?
As a support person, you will need to be willing to actively support the person in staying offence-free. This includes:
The people involved in the Support Planning Meeting will help you understand how to look for warning signs, and what to do when you see them, such as intervening or alerting someone who can better deal with it, such as another member of the support network.
Support people may help in practical ways, such as providing transport, accompanying the person to appointments, or being available for phone contact. You will also help the person be aware of risky situations and warning signs and how to act on these. Your role will be discussed at the Support Planning Meeting.
You may feel uncomfortable with some of the information you hear in a Support Planning Meeting, and may be unsure if you will be able to help support the person in stopping offending. This is not uncommon.
You will have the opportunity at the meeting to raise any concerns and you will be given more information or advice about what to do. You can also request that the meeting be suspended if you wish to talk about your concerns privately.
The network of people created through the Support Planning Meetings will work together with you to reduce the chances of the person offending again. You can use this network to help you in your role as a support person.
This is discussed at the Support Planning Meeting and is a key factor in keeping the person supported, and the community they live in safe.
There are warning signs that you will need to watch for, as well as high-risk situations that you may need to help a person avoid or deal with to help them avoid re-offending.
The people involved in the Support Planning Meeting will discuss with you how to spot these signs, how to support the person in not offending, and when to alert someone who can help deal with the situation.
There is a chain of thoughts, feelings and behaviours that can lead to a person’s offending. This is called an “offence or relapse pattern”. Their Probation Officer, and the other people working with them, can help that person – and you – understand when and how this chain is triggered, and discuss ways to steer the person away from offending.
If a person has already attended a special treatment unit such as Te Piriti or Kia Marama they will have already learnt about this.
To help make sure a person doesn’t start back down the path that led to their offending, they need to:
Each child sex offender has a Probation Officer who will work with them, and with other people and agencies in their community to help increase the chances of them remaining offence-free.
A person can stop offending. There are many people, agencies and organisations committed to helping them to stop offending. They will work with that person and with each other to help make sure that the person gets the support and monitoring they need to stop offending, and that the community they live in is safe from their offending.
Self-management is a big part of not offending. This means a person taking ownership of their behaviour – being responsible and active in making decisions not to offend, to avoid the things that may lead to their offending, and to seek help when they need it.
Having a support network of people in a community who understand their offending behaviour can also increase the chances of a person living an offence-free life, and of the community they live in being safe from their offending. This network can be created through Support Planning Meetings and other ways.
Sharing information with others in a community will also help deter a person from entering situations or starting behaviours that may lead to their offending. This information sharing can happen through Support Planning Meetings and through agreements between certain government agencies committed to helping keep communities safe.
If you feel the person is in danger of sexually abusing a child, or if you know the person is looking at children or pictures of children, or showing behaviour or signs that they are thinking about sexual activity with children – YOU NEED TO TAKE ACTION IMMEDIATELY.
If a person starts having the thoughts and feelings again that they recognise as leading to their offending, they may feel discouraged or hopeless, and they may even feel like giving up.
It’s important they get help as quickly as possible if they find themselves unable to deal with a situation or with certain thoughts and feelings – like anger, anxiety, depression, or inappropriate sexual thoughts and feelings.
These are examples of warning signs – you need to pay attention if the person starts showing signs of these thoughts and feelings, and move quickly to help stop them leading the person to further offending.
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