The B.C. Government's "A Clockwork Orange-esque" penile sex testing on young offenders

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    Jul 29, 2010 12:05 AM GMT
    B.C. suspends penile sex tests on young offenders
    Last Updated: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 | 12:52 PM PT Comments132Recommend53CBC News
    The B.C. government has suspended a controversial test called a penile plethysmograph, which it was using to assess young sex offenders to determine their risk of reoffending after treatment.

    On Wednesday, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association demanded the government intervene after it learned of the tests.

    Within hours, the government suspended the sex testing after the provincial advocate for children and youth announced she would conduct a review.

    B.C.'s Children's Representative Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond says she only learned last week of this clinical testing on young people, about a week before the BCCLA went public with its concerns.

    Turpel-Lafond says after she raised concerns with senior ministry officials, the practice was suspended.

    "They have assured me this testing is not happening at the moment and they will not continue this testing until my office has completed a review of the matter," she said.

    "I think we're going to look very carefully at the balancing of the rights of the youth, their vulnerability, the process that was used," she said. "Is this a necessary tool? Is it valuable? I think we're really going to have to look at all of the key issues with this."

    Youths shown images of naked children
    During the test, a youth would attach a device to his penis that is designed to measure his physical sexual arousal.

    Researchers in another room then play images of adults having sex, followed by images of naked children and infants, as they monitor the youth's level of arousal, according to Robert Holmes, the president of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.

    The images are accompanied by audio of a male voice that describes forced intercourse with male and female infants as young as two, according to Holmes.

    The youth's genitals are covered by a sheet during the testing, and the youth is monitored by researchers behind one-way glass who measure whether or not there is some kind of stimulation effect, said Holmes.

    "Male children, often abuse victims themselves, are subjected to this treatment by a government responsible for their care and well-being," said Holmes.

    The youth subjects are predominantly children involved in the criminal justice system in B.C., he said.

    "In our view, serious rights issues are involved with this. That is particularly so given that the individuals involved are vulnerable youth. The public is entitled to a full explanation," he said.

    "These tests are a clear breach of the children's basic human rights. In any other context, subjecting children to violent pornography would be considered sexual abuse," said Annabel Webb, director of the advocacy group Justice for Girls.

    Proponents of the program say a youth's parents have consented to the tests, which they say allow officials to predict whether the youths are likely to reoffend.

    But Holmes questioned whether consent was properly obtained from the youths and their families. He also said the test has a high error rate and could adversely affect the youths involved.

    Used to determine risk of reoffending
    The tests are conducted by Youth Forensic Psychiatric Services, part of the Ministry for Children and Family Development.

    Children and Family Development Minister Mary Polak says the test is conducted only on young people who have committed serious sexual offences as part of a treatment process to try to determine the youth's likelihood of reoffending.

    "The ministry relies on the advice of medical professionals and clinical practitioners with regard to research and therapeutic intervention as it relates to the treatment of youth who have committed — and have been found guilty of — serious sexual offences," Polak said in a statement released Wednesday.

    Polak said it's completely voluntary, involves parental or guardian consent and can be withdrawn at any stage, but she takes the concerns seriously and will co-operate with the review by the Representative for Children and Youth.

    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2010/07/28/bc-penile-sex-tests-young-offenders.html?ref=rss
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jul 29, 2010 12:07 AM GMT
    This is actually really fucked up in so many ways that I can't even comprehend.
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    Jul 29, 2010 2:03 AM GMT
    Fountains, a relative of mine was raped brutally when he was 11 by a 13 year old.
    How would you suggest they test to see if the 13 year old (later when assessment was done) to determine if he was at risk to re-offend?

    It is entirely voluntary. It's great, though, that they're suspending this until the review is done.



    just curious, -Doug
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    Jul 29, 2010 3:08 AM GMT
    First off, I'm very sorry to hear about your relative. But I think that this is the wrong approach because it lacks any understanding of sociology, history, or criminology. The EXACT same process was done to homosexuals in the 1970s by government offices with something called "the fruit machine". Their purpose was to determine whether people were homosexuals based on stimulatory response to the pupils and to the genitals. The reality is that all it did was get a lot of people fired from government jobs because of "false positives". the reality is that processes like this can't be predicted.

    Ultimately, I would suggest that the best way to make sure that there are not repeat offenders is what many women's groups have been suggesting for years which is that counselling is what will prevent them from re-offending because that will do the most to get at whatever psychological issues the person has that caused them to do such heinous things to begin with.

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    Jul 29, 2010 3:32 AM GMT
    Fountains said, "Ultimately, I would suggest that the best way to make sure that there are not repeat offenders is what many women's groups have been suggesting for years which is that counselling is what will prevent them from re-offending because that will do the most to get at whatever psychological issues the person has that caused them to do such heinous things to begin with. "

    They do that, too, Fountains. It doesn't always work. If it did there would be no repeat offenders.
  • roadbikeRob

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    Jul 31, 2010 4:39 PM GMT
    What has gotten into British Columbia's provincial government? Why are they becoming so blindly conservative and so punitive.
  • calibro

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    Jul 31, 2010 4:49 PM GMT
    meninlove said Fountains, a relative of mine was raped brutally when he was 11 by a 13 year old.
    How would you suggest they test to see if the 13 year old (later when assessment was done) to determine if he was at risk to re-offend?

    It is entirely voluntary. It's great, though, that they're suspending this until the review is done.



    just curious, -Doug


    because predisposition to committing a crime is not the same as committing the crime itself.
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    Jul 31, 2010 6:45 PM GMT
    Man, this is so far beyond the pale of civilization... How fucked up can they get? I am really surprised at hearing of this kind of behavior from Canada, our putatively progressive neighbor.
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    Jul 31, 2010 6:48 PM GMT
    I am 100% gay, yet I get very aroused by straight pornography because I like the guys, their very straightness, and their enthusiasm for fucking a hole, etc. I suspect I would get aroused by child pornography if the adult perpetrator had a hot body or a nice dick.
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    Jul 31, 2010 8:45 PM GMT



    calibro. This kind of test is done AFTER the crimes have been committed. Its intent is to determine whether or not counsel etc etc etc has been effective, and whether or not to try something else.

    It's voluntary , and has to be OK'd t by the offender and the offenders parents/guardians.

    It's under review, which is a good thing.

  • calibro

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    Jul 31, 2010 8:58 PM GMT
    meninlove said


    calibro. This kind of test is done AFTER the crimes have been committed. Its intent is to determine whether or not counsel etc etc etc has been effective, and whether or not to try something else.

    It's voluntary , and has to be OK'd t by the offender and the offenders parents/guardians.

    It's under review, which is a good thing.



    yes, but the point of the test is to predict another crime. and just because one is committed does not mean another will occur. the problem here lies in stigmatizing a patient. it doesn't matter if it's voluntary-- i highly doubt a teenager has the mental capacity to understand why he should not participate in this. parents in turn have no right to agree to such a test either for their child. what happens if years later a law is passed labeling such individuals and sex offenders because they have a propensity to commit the crime again. where is the rehabilitation and aspect that a person can control his urges? by having a teenager be stuck with an official diagnosis of potential to repeat a crime you open a pandora's box to right to privacy and civil rights violations.
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    Jul 31, 2010 9:04 PM GMT
    calibro, please look up the stats on rapists and pedophiles reoffending. This test is done with adult offenders as well.

    As well, it appears some here feel that those perpetrating such crimes deserve the same rights as those who have not.

    For some reason the word voluntary is completely being ignored on this topic. Why?

    We also keep repeating that we're glad it's being reviewed.

    Bill suspects some of you are experiencing a testosterone surge and looking for a fight.

    We won't play.

    -Doug


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    Jul 31, 2010 9:46 PM GMT
    May be I missed something, but I don't see the rational behind the test.

    The test only provide information about pedophilia tendencies.

    If the subject are young sexual offender, testing positive will only give a screening for the ones with sexual attraction to kids (I assume young sex offender is a far larger category than young pedophile).

    I suspect that in the number of those having sexual attraction to kids, and only a very small part become sexual offender.

    Your sexual attraction (what makes you hard) is instinctive, emotional reaction, you have no choice about it. You can only decide to act on it or not, and the huge majority will never act.
    For example, rape fetish is very common, but it's not because one have it that he will act on it, or even have a desire to act on it.

    Obective determination of pedophilia tendencies (what the test does), is unrealted to re-offending risk.
    If a one time sex offender is rehabilited and never offend again, he will still get hard out of the same stimulations as before.

    Do you think one can be cured of homosexuallity ? Or that a straight guy with boob fetish can stop to like them ?

    Now, even if what makes you hard will likely make you hard to your last day, it's always possible to develop new tastes and interests.
    Considering that, I find extreemly questionable to expose young sexual offender, likely emotionally instable and sexually immature, to pedophile fantaisies.

    It could be that the real purpose of the test is to create a 'potential pedophile' field in the sex offender file.
    And that the process could create more of them just out of the testing.
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    Jul 31, 2010 9:51 PM GMT
    meninlove said calibro, please look up the stats on rapists and pedophiles reoffending. This test is done with adult offenders as well.

    As well, it appears some here feel that those perpetrating such crimes deserve the same rights as those who have not.

    For some reason the word voluntary is completely being ignored on this topic. Why?

    We also keep repeating that we're glad it's being reviewed.

    Bill suspects some of you are experiencing a testosterone surge and looking for a fight.

    We won't play.

    -Doug




    Doug I hear your concern and feel sorry for your relative and his familly.

    I agree that assessing the chances of reoffending is extreemly important, and that both that screening and the mesure to take to reduce the number is worth big effort.

    I just don't think that test can measure what it says it measure, because it test sexual reaction, it doesn't test the ability to make moral choice, manage frustration, have empathy etc..., all indicators which would give tips about the probability to re-offend
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    Jul 31, 2010 9:52 PM GMT
    meninlove said
    For some reason the word voluntary is completely being ignored on this topic. Why?


    Maybe because most people here are perceptive enough to understand that the word "voluntary" is meaningless in this context.
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    Jul 31, 2010 11:24 PM GMT
    ...hmmmm.... viveutvitas, saying, "I suspect I would get aroused by child pornography if the adult perpetrator had a hot body or a nice dick."


    It surprises both of us that you would be able to disassociate deeply enough from watching the violation of a child to be able to watch a child being raped and be yet turned on by watching the perpetrator in the act because you thought him 'hot'.

    Now so far we've stated that we're glad this is under review and yet it's being suggested/inferred that we are for this test.

    Gentlemen this topic has been a test that shows how some here really feel about us. Some of you wish to paint us a being in favour of violation of rights and privacy etc etc....
    We have both sat here and watched the speculation and what if's being presented with no facts or research done.

    We both suggest you devote some time to the above suggestion to look up some stats, and the make-up of Canada, which is very bleeding heart when it comes to the rights of criminals of all ages.

    Perhaps start with Clifford Olsen.

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    Jul 31, 2010 11:37 PM GMT
    Regardless, the program seems to smack of pseudo-science or science fiction rather than something capable of producing objective predictions that law enforcement could utilize. Prediction for criminals re-offending, no matter the crime, is where one begins to enter the category of "guilty until proven innocent", rather than "innocent until proven guilty". I think that is the point calibro is trying to make.
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    Jul 31, 2010 11:48 PM GMT
    meninlove said calibro, please look up the stats on rapists and pedophiles reoffending. This test is done with adult offenders as well.

    As well, it appears some here feel that those perpetrating such crimes deserve the same rights as those who have not.

    For some reason the word voluntary is completely being ignored on this topic. Why?




    Saying the test is done on adult offenders is irrelevant. this kind of testing on a child = child abuse. a child cannot be put in the same category as an adult. This is government subjecting children to violent pornography and child abuse. It's just completely insane Talk about government violation of human rights of children.

    And the reason the word VOLUNTARY is also irrelevant here is because the report posted indicates that there really is not proper consent.

    "Proponents of the program say a youth's parents have consented to the tests, which they say allow officials to predict whether the youths are likely to reoffend.

    But Holmes questioned whether consent was properly obtained from the youths and their families. He also said the test has a high error rate and could adversely affect the youths involved."



    Governmnet official - we need to perform a test to see if your child is likely to reoffend and we need your permission. The test will be monitored by trained doctors and physicians and will not harm your child.

    Parent - ok, well i guess that's alright.

    Government official - we need to perform a test to see if your child is likely to reoffend and we need your permission. The test involves some doctor attaching a device to your child's penis and showing him a video of 2 adults fucking followed by a video and images of child rape. We will be watching from a glass window to see if he gets a hardon.

    Parent - consent?

    the consent obtained cannot be voluntary unless the parents know all that will be done to the child, which the article indicates may not be the case. And anyway, parents shouldn't be allowed to consent to their children being exposed to this kind of depravity even if they want to. Children need to be protected from their own parents in many cases (that's why most child abuse cases happens with someone the child knows or is related to).
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    Aug 01, 2010 12:00 AM GMT
    Utterly and totally fucked up. There are SO MANY aspects - related to the very individual being tested - that would make any 'results' totally inconsistent and inconclusive, that to come to any decision based upon this 'test', would be very dangerous and... really I just find this extremely disturbing.

    Besides, it seems to me to ignore the real issue regarding rape; that it's not about "sex" but about "power."

    At times, random, sporadic things can instigate arousal - even by something as simple as a change in pressure. That does not imply that they are sexually attracted to pressure changes, and thus will try to... molest or rape... what, fast-paced mountainous transportation?

    Further, showing images of children after images of sex seems to me to be conducting a test aiming to achieve a particular set of results. Some people simply have a harder time (no pun intended) 'calming down' than others, regardless of images, environmental changes, etc. That doesn't mean they are perverts, it just means they perhaps have a different experience of arousal than others.

    I'd like to say that nothing the B.C. government continues to do surprises me... but it's still disturbing.

    It concerns me, further, that they are "conducting a review" of these tests, which in governmental terms means that they will bring the test back, with only superficial changes and alterations designed to alleviate public concern, but the substance of the test will likely remain. This thing should just END altogether.
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    Aug 01, 2010 12:01 AM GMT
    Thanks hidden member, we keep repeating ourselves til our fingers are sore that we're glad this is under review. One thing we love about our country is its constant self analysis and re-examination of policies and methods.

    We do NOT, however, believe in knee-jerk reaction to perceived wrongs against criminals.

    Has anyone done any research yet to see what happens to a criminal record of a young offender when they reach 19? Their records are wiped clean. Our country gives them a completely new start.
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    Aug 01, 2010 12:06 AM GMT
    meninlove said Thanks hidden member, we keep repeating ourselves til our fingers are sore that we're glad this is under review.


    this is so outrageous it shouldn't even be under review.
    except for a review of the people who performed these tests to see if they need to be fired/put in jail.
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    Aug 01, 2010 12:07 AM GMT
    Whether they are sex offenders or not teenage boys get erections ALL THE TIME! I am only a little past my teenage years and I got an erection just a few minutes ago walking up the stairs behind my 250 pound, 77 year-old grandmother. How fucked up am I?
  • calibro

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    Aug 01, 2010 12:07 AM GMT
    meninlove said ...hmmmm.... viveutvitas, saying, "I suspect I would get aroused by child pornography if the adult perpetrator had a hot body or a nice dick."


    It surprises both of us that you would be able to disassociate deeply enough from watching the violation of a child to be able to watch a child being raped and be yet turned on by watching the perpetrator in the act because you thought him 'hot'.

    Now so far we've stated that we're glad this is under review and yet it's being suggested/inferred that we are for this test.

    Gentlemen this topic has been a test that shows how some here really feel about us. Some of you wish to paint us a being in favour of violation of rights and privacy etc etc....
    We have both sat here and watched the speculation and what if's being presented with no facts or research done.

    We both suggest you devote some time to the above suggestion to look up some stats, and the make-up of Canada, which is very bleeding heart when it comes to the rights of criminals of all ages.

    Perhaps start with Clifford Olsen.


    now, let's not get testy. you know i have great respect for you both and this discussion is not a personal attack against either of your or what you believe. my point is this:

    a. you have a minor convicted of a heinous crime.
    b. you want to perform a psychological test on a minor to determine his propensity for committing another crime.

    1. how is a minor supposed to be cognizant of the ramifications of such a test decades from now? it might seem voluntary but you cannot reasonably expect a 13 year old boy to understand the complex issues at play.

    2. what is the test to determine? say the boy becomes aroused by watching violent child pornography... what has been proven? if he has already been found guilty of such a abuse then the test seems moot.

    3. how can you guarantee that the results of this test won't be used against these subjects at a later date in circumstances that dealt with their original guilt but not a different offense?

    4. why are we trying to determine the propensity for a child to commit a crime before it is committed? if a person has already committed the crime once I would think treatment is more important than the determining of the extent of repetition.

    5. my main qualm is this: it seems this test is being devised to determine if those that are to be released will repeat their actions, which could in turn prevent their release. that is not how the criminal system works. someone who is aroused by children will fail this test, but that does not mean that person cannot control his urges; however, i can see the government using this test to argue otherwise and conclude that it is in the best interest for society to keep this person locked up as a precaution. it is an undue intrusion to base possible guilt from psychological inclinations. just because there is a valid reason to believe harm might be done does not give us the right to deny someone of their rights. my concern is that this test can easily fall into the wrong hands to unjustly affect those who have participated.

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    Aug 01, 2010 12:10 AM GMT
    MeOhMy said, "It concerns me, further, that they are "conducting a review" of these tests, which in governmental terms means that they will bring the test back, with only superficial changes and alterations designed to alleviate public concern, but the substance of the test will likely remain. This thing should just END altogether."


    ...MeOhMy, please read:

    "Although B.C.'s minister of children and families permanently shut down a controversial testing method on youth sex offenders Thursday, the province's advocate for children's rights says she will intensify her review of the program.

    Mary-Ellen Turpel-Lafond, B.C.'s Representative for Children and Youth, said she will expand her review into an investigation in light of criminal allegations against one of the program's employees.

    The testing, conducted by the government's Youth Forensic Psychiatric Service for the past 25 years in Burnaby, involved attaching devices called "penile plethysmographs" to the penises of youth sex offenders.

    They would then be shown videos of semi-nude or nude children, accompanied by a narration of forced or coercive sexual situations.

    Depending on the subjects' arousal, the program, which required consent, aimed to predict if they would commit further sexual offences.

    An advocacy group, Justice for Girls, learned of the disturbing test from a study conducted by the psychiatric service in 2009, and informed the B.C. Civil Liberties Association a week ago.

    That group relayed the information to Turpel-Lafond and Mary Polak, Minister of Children and Families, on Monday. "

    http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/30072010/73/bc-sex-charge-prompts-expanded-probe-youth-offender-penile-test.html

    ....and this is how it should be, and an example of how Canada works.
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    Aug 01, 2010 12:12 AM GMT
    Okay, the issue of pedophiles and rapists. Is it sexual in nature? Rape itself is more an act of power and dominance than an expression of sexuality.

    If you want to combat pedophilia, and the like, take a common sense approach. Don't "screen" for it in the population, assuming you even can. Instead, turn the public attention to places where it is most likely to occur. For example, people talk about the Catholic Church, that's a good start. But people seem to think the buck stops there.

    Turn the focus on schools, social workers (in the US, Child Protective Services), and juvenile detention centers. If you are someone who wants to sexually abuse children, you are more likely to maneuver into a position which gives you an extreme or significant amount of authority over children. It's just an unfortunate side of human nature. (If you build it, they will come).

    CPS has been notorious in this, but the discussion and shedding on light of CPS and pedophilia or child abuse has been slim to none. Schools are largely... glanced over. And juvenile detention centers are not even talked about. Although, in Texas a couple of years ago, there was a scandal that broke out in which the Texas Youth Commission was found to be involved in horrendous abuses of children. It made the news locally, but nationally and internationally? Hell no.

    So instead of "screening" for these things, why not actually deal with them on an inter-personal, actual, socially self-reflective and conscious manner? You cannot "screen" for human imperfections and human weakness (it is in us all), but you can look at society objectively, and try to reshape social structures so that it reduces the institutionalization of human weakness and predatory abuses.

    Human weakness will always be with us (and most often it is represented in the abuse of or acquisition of 'power). The point is not to "breed" or "engineer" it out, for then we would be implementing eugenics and institutionalizing dehumanization. The point is to reduce the risk of abuse, reduce the ramifications of human weakness.

    But that requires a lot more work and reflection than say... giving vocal support to a "test". No, the former might actually require work. The latter only requires you to turn a blind eye to 'scientific' abuses.