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

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This report has provided a review of the sparse literature on aboriginal sex offenders. As there are few studies, it is obviously an area in the earliest phase of development. Although there are few programs currently available, increasing awareness of the need for programming is inspiring (Zellerer, 1994). As already mentioned, initiatives have begun which can offer insight for future programs.

Some recurring themes emerged from this review. The aboriginal people believe in a holistic approach based upon healing. aboriginal programs must be holistic in the sense that it must reach all the aspects of the human being: mentally, spiritually, physically and emotionally. Treatment programs are also holistic because they are not centered around the male perpetrator, but encompass women and children, the extended family and even in certain cases the whole community.

For service providers, it is of paramount importance that they understand and respect the aboriginal culture and values of the community with which they are working. On the whole, the training and resources required to work with aboriginal sex offenders should eventually, when feasible, be transferred to aboriginal caregivers or Service Providers.

The approach which has most consistently been endorsed, combines mainstream or contemporary methods with traditional aboriginal approaches. Non-aboriginal treatment protocols and insights can be utilized in the context of programs which are culturally-specific and which incorporate spiritual teachings and ceremonies. However, it is recognized that aboriginal sex offenders differ in their interest in traditional healing and should be given the choice to participate in healing rituals.

Some argue that until an aboriginal justice system is created, the current system will have to be used, particularly as a "back-up" (Zellerer, 1994), but overall, there is a resounding call for alternatives to current judicial practice, specifically for community-based programs.

The aboriginal people must participate in the decision-making process at all levels of development and program implementation. Attaining that goal will require respect, understanding and patience between aboriginals and non-aboriginals. Ultimately, both groups have a strong vested interest in providing the most effective means of healing both perpetrators and victims, thereby reducing further victimization.