SCARS: “An Overall Deficit In The System”

December 12, 2016

SCARS Bermuda said that despite advocating to local legislators for five years, they are “disappointed and concerned” that “nothing has been done to protect the island’s children from sex abuse predators.”

SCARS said that while the community has recently been up in arms about the early release of former policeman and convicted paedophile John Malcolm ‘Chalkie’ White, Jon Brunson, Chairman of the SCARS board, said “the bigger issue here wasn’t one man, but an overall deficit in the system as a whole.”

“This issue didn’t begin with John Malcolm ‘Chalkie’ White and won’t end with him unless something drastic is done by those in a position of authority,” Mr Brunson explained. “

This problem has been in place for years and years and I don’t think anyone in a legislative position in Bermuda can say we haven’t advised them of these risks.

“Unfortunately, no one in a position of power is doing anything about assessing changes in the system that will protect children, even though many of them are parents themselves.

“Right now if a sex offender is convicted and goes to jail it wouldn’t be hard to make it mandatory for them to go through some rehabilitation by a trained Psychiatrist and get them reassessed to see if they could be safely reintegrated back into the community.

“However, the way our system is set up this treatment is optional for them. It’s a fundamental mistake that will set the perpetrator up to fail.”

Debi Ray-Rivers and Jon Brunson of SCARS

Scars Bermuda December 12 2016

Debi Ray-Rivers, the charity’s founder and executive director, said other jurisdictions take this issue very seriously and Bermuda, on the other hand, “still isn’t getting it.”

“In the UK they have a trained board these sex offenders have to sit in front of to assess the level of risk. The US has systems in place as well and have a public sex offenders list,” Mrs Ray-Rivers said.

“The island has been resistant to a sex offenders list because Bermuda is so small, but in terms of an in-depth assessment that has yet to be implemented by a psychiatrist with experience in understanding the manipulative nature of these sex offenders. Ninety percent of perpetrators are people we know, love or trust.

“On top of that we have no sex offender management or mandated treatment. We have antiquated laws that are failing our children. Children are innocent and can’t protect themselves and these perpetrators can’t fix themselves or change without proper treatment.”

Mr Brunson said perpetrators are often considered to be ‘model prisoners’ while in jail because they are away from any temptation.

“Without children around their trigger isn’t there,” he said. “As a result these offenders have their sentence shortened.

“In ‘Chalkie’ White’s situation his original sentence was 22 years. It was appealed and reduced to 18 years and because he was a model prisoner he was let out in 12 years,” Mr Brunson said. “But how are you going to know how well he is when he opted not to be assessed and had no rehabilitation?

“Another huge concern is if these perpetrators serve their sentence they don’t have to report to a probation officer. They are free to roam the community and do whatever they wish. There need to be safe zones that sex offender cannot cross including schools, playgrounds and other establishments frequented by children and families.

“Without those in place we are doing a huge disservice to our children, the perpetrators and our community by not getting them the proper help they need.”

Child sexual abuse changes the lives of young people forever, Mrs Ray-Rivers explained.

“We are talking about children who will be scarred for the rest of their lives. For the last five years, we have been working with adults who are scarred because of what happened to them as children. It’s very serious.

“The risk is too great if we don’t mandate counselling before an offender is released back into the community. If we don’t do that and the person reoffends then another child’s life is changed forever,” Mrs Ray-Rivers continued. “I’m a survivor and our family has personally experienced this first hand.”

Although SCARS say legislators have been slow to act on this issue, many in the community have swiftly taken up this charge.

Local sporting clubs, churches, charities, summer camps and schools have mandated that adults working with children be certified in some form of child sex abuse offender training through the charity.

“It’s the people who see the risk and are close to our children and they have made a decision that something has to change,” Mr Brunson said. “This is not coming from the legislators. It’s a grass roots movement to affect change.

“That’s why we were disappointed to read these articles in the paper about these perpetrators. It’s good that these stories are coming to light, but they are missing the point.

“It’s not about ‘Chalkie’ White, it’s about every sex offender, those before and after him, and until we change the system and those who have the ability to change the system act, the risks are still the same.

“There needs to be some sort of checklist so when offenders are released schools and parents are notified of what has to happen to better protect our children.”

Danielle Riviere, the SCARS project manager, said all the information and research had been made readily available and shared with politicians.

“SCARS has been down the path the community is going down now of shock and anger about this issue, but now we as a community need to get to the next phase of applying the solutions,” said Ms Riviere.

“There is this myth this issue is just coming to the forefront, when in reality for far too long this has been happening and nothing has been done. Now it’s time to act.”

SCARS statement comes as well known football Coach Andrew Bascome spoke out about being molested, saying at at a press conference today, “You don’t know what kids are going through, I have been through that. I’ve been molested. All I want to do, is just teach football and just give back to football and try to just help that one kid that might not have any hope and feel worthless and useless.”

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Comments (11)

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  1. Terry says:

    Quite a solution to it all.
    But regulators deal with bull**** and it’s being looked into.


  2. Community First says:

    Yes- It is time to act. It has always been time to act and will be time to act when a person is currently or potentially at risk of being violated by another in our community.

    SCARS is to be commended for their courage in voicing what has been considered the unspeakable acts between people who often know and trust each other.

    How do we stop a person in a position of trust and respect abusing another? SCARS educational programme should be mandatory as they are providing an essential community service. We must help each other stop this type of violence.

    We don’t know the extensive collateral damage done through this type of abuse however we do know hurt people often hurt people and it requires an intervention to stop that cycle.

    Bermuda will continue to heal when we find our voice to speak of our experience and we make every attempt through education and law to manage this type of behaviour from occurring.

    How many individuals involved in addiction treatment,private therapy, MAWI, Westgate, Drug Court and our legal system have suffered abuse or know of a family member who has?

    How many individuals in our community are unidentified, untreated and potentially abusing others?

    • Head says:

      Didn’t the OBA promise a sex offenders list when they got in power? What they throw this under the rug!!

  3. sage says:

    I used to regret not joining clubs and getting involved in sports…

  4. Kathy says:

    This is another example of how the current government is failing the people of Bermuda. INACTION will not be tolerated by the people either by the OBA or by the PLP. We need to address these urgent issues and change our laws immediately as they arise. There is no excuse that our children should be left vulnerable! EVERY child matters! We have to act NOW!

  5. Apple says:

    Let’s march or protest for this! No politics necessary

  6. reddamtibi says:

    It is not a lie to state that worldwide it is the people that hold the reigns of policy making that are doing the abusing on a large scale – seek out info on the British, Australian and American child abuse scandals that have been under investigation for the better part of two decades and has been known of for the better part of six…

    What I am saying is this people – sooner or later we have to face the hard truth. I cannot delve into the details on this forum because of slander and libel concerns but worldwide “secret societies” have long since made ritual child abuse and sacrifice a part of their offerings to their “lord of light” – as it were. These are practices that have been going on for millennia (recall the sacrificing of virgins in ancient societies? Virgin really means child before adolescence or intercourse) and is slowly being revealed to those who would seek out the truth.

    The latest “pizzagate” scandal is simply a distraction that MSM can label as “false news” to lead people away from the march larger picture – much in the same way people believe their (current) lies that Russia (give me a break) actually affected the outcome of the US election – when you understand that misdirection and misinformation is their standard operating procedure, one will more easily be able to navigate the maze of lies.

    With all of that said – do not look to the leaders of this country to make changes/ We have a very very long way to go if we are seeking to topple this current control center.

  7. ct says:

    In the UK, I believe sex offender programmes in prison (SOTPs) are voluntary because offenders must be motivated. About 7% were found to be motivated because participation might reduce their sentence but, in general, the offender needs to want to change behaviour. Forcing someone to attend may well become counterproductive. An interesting article is this one, p 14 about voluntary SOTPs:

  8. Riley says:

    This group makes a lot more sense than the self-promoting dribble that comes out of the Coalition For The Protection Of Children most of the time. Good luck to them in their work.

  9. 441 Abroad says:

    Some of the biggest offenders are family members… fathers, step fathers, brothers, uncles; and yes, mothers, sisters, step sisters… The children grow up to be adults with serious emotional and relational challenges.
    We are taught to protect the perpetrators by keeping silent…keeping the secret…living a lie…when the offenders continue with life.. Shame on all those involved in the crime against humanity! I for one will no longer keep your secret!!! The abuse has caused me great pain, the likes of which you can hardly imagine.