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Aboriginal Sex Offenders: Melding Spiritual Healing with Cognitive-Behavioural Treatment

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The objective of this report is to contribute to the development of a treatment strategy for aboriginal sex offenders. The first step in developing programs is to examine current treatment strategies and determine what insights have been gained by those working in this area (Zellerer, 1994). Since the literature is limited, this report also reviews other aspects of the aboriginal situation in Canada, in order to provide a suitable context.

The last few years have witnessed a growing interest in aboriginal offenders. More specifically, aboriginal sex offenders have had increasing attention from the government and various aboriginal organizations, due to the recognition that sexual assault was as serious a problem in aboriginal communities as in mainstream society. Moreover, the incarceration and recidivism rates of aboriginal sex offenders are higher than amongst non-aboriginal sex offenders. The number of aboriginal men serving sentences for sex offences is disproportionately high, compared to non-aboriginal offenders (Speaking notes for John Edwards, 1995: 2). For this reason, private organizations and government alike, are developing programs to help aboriginal communities deal with the problem of sexual assault.

Evidently, there are no easy solutions. Sexual assault is a multi-faceted problem that cannot be solved without coordinated efforts from various organizations, communities and individuals. Government departments can and should become involved in the decision-making process at all levels of program development and implementation, and should provide resources for the health care professionals who work with aboriginals. Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) has become actively involved in aboriginal issues, via the development of the Corporate Advisor aboriginal Programs, and aboriginal Advisory Committee, supported by section 81 of the Correctional and Conditional Release Act.

Because the literature on aboriginal sex offenders is sparse, this report is written in a qualitative manner. Although it provides as much information as possible on aboriginal sex offender programs, it also tries to provide insight into more general aboriginal issues, within both community and correctional contexts.