Letter: Focus should be on repairing harm

Editor:

Reading the Nov. 7 story of former Kamloops deputy sheriff Kevin Johnston caught arranging sexual relations with someone he believed to be a teenager was truly disturbing (‘Former Kamloops deputy sheriff caught in vigilante sting gets one-year conditional sentence’).

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It was disturbing due to the nature of the incident and the place of power Johnston held in society.

I have a few concerns regarding the article.

In my experience of safety, I have been taught to fear people labelled as “degenerates” by society. I believe there is not enough attention and precaution raised regarding “high status” people in positions of authority, where we have been traditionally taught to feel perceived safety.

My reason for writing is to raise questions and awareness.

Are children blindly taught to trust people of authority. In cases where principals, priests and law enforcement officers use and abuse their power status over vulnerable individuals, they are made to feel like the exceptions.

After an offender is released, what are the supports in place to prevent the cycle of abuse from occurring again?

In Johnston’s case, after he serves his sentence, does he continue life as he did before his conviction or are there support groups and/or counselling options to provide support and potentially prevent re-occurring offences? Will he really understand and accept the harm he could have caused?

A large issue with sexual assault and abuse is that it has a culture of victim-blaming and shame.

If a teenager is engaging with an adult man over the internet and they are sexually taken advantage of, would they feel safe coming forward?

I think the way we approach the discussion of sex with youth and children, as a highly taboo subject, can leave misunderstanding and confusion regarding sex and possibly create more harm.

One solution to these issues is having more open, honest, conversations with children and youth. Another is holding offenders responsible for their actions.

I believe there should be focus in repairing harm and breaking cycles of abuse of offenders so that, after their senetnces are served, they may have a lower chance of recidivism.

Elaine Marie
Kamloops

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