Indigenous Australians and child abuse

In my opinion, the latest action by the Federal Government smacks of panic. The election is within 12 months, the opposition party is polling well, and now a report comes out about Aboriginal health that is quite damning. I find it hard to believe that the government's action isn't related to damage control for the next election.

For one thing, the problem of child sexual abuse in remote Aboriginal communities hasn't suddenly popped up out of nowhere. I'm certain that reports of this problem surfaced last year and made headline news then... but the government seemed to do little at that time.

What really concerns me is that the solutions that have been offered - banning alcohol and pornography - seem quite ignorant of the facts behind child sexual abuse.

I'm going to assume here that indigenous Australians are essentially the same as other Australians and have the same physiology and psychological actions and reactions. In other words, I am going to assume that they're just as human as I am.

Pedophiles and child abusers suffer from a form of paraphilia (sexual arousal by an inappropriate person or object). This is a learned condition that is reinforced by basic behaviourism over a long period.

Sexual attraction to children does not occur because a person views pornography, or has had celibacy forced upon him, or who drinks too much alcohol, or who is in constant contact with children. It is actually the other way around - pedophiles are more likely to view pornography (but it doesn't cause pedophilia); pedophiles want to work with children (but working with children doesn't cause pedophilia).

I therefore doubt that some of the government's proposals will actually work. They are assuming that grog and porn cause child sexual abuse. If that's the case then they should ban grog and porn all over Australia to prevent all drunken masturbators from unwittingly becoming child molesters. That does not happen, of course, in the white community... so why are we assuming it happens in the indigenous community?

Indigenous Australians have suffered since 1788. Long term problems require long term solutions. Increasing police presence is a good idea, but it needs to be permanent... not just for the duration of the election campaign. Resources need to be directed towards "early intervention" - the teaching and training of young indigenous Australians so that they can avoid having negative cultural traits being passed along to them. Greater access to meaningful long term employment is also essential, which may require economic resources to be directed to creating business opportunities in remote Australia.

I don't want knee-jerk reactions, I want permanent solutions. While it is true that the Coalition have been sitting on this growing problem for over a decade, the ALP should also take the blame for not doing enough during the 13 years they were in power (1983-1996). Far too often, money the ALP channeled to Indigenous programs was squandered and wasted. I was therefore quite pleased to hear a joint press conference with Tony Abbott (Coalition) and Julia Gillard (ALP) in which Gillard stated that the ALP would not being using this to its political advantage. Very wise.

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