Why “Zero Tolerance” Alone is Not an Effective Response to Predatory Behavior

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The Jiujitsu community is once again facing allegations of sexual predatory behavior.

Cyborg Abreau made a statement post on social media after allegations with many specific details came out that implicated his godson and other members that were training and instructing under the Fight Sports Brazilian Jiujitsu.

The response from the community, as usual, has been harsh. After all, isn’t this the community that people seek out to help provide them tools to protect and defend them from different threats?

There are other articles that have highlighted the universal failure and contention that what was known was brushed under the rug. This means that the accused had or has enablers.

What I’m focusing on most is Cyborgs statement and the problems with this type of crime that no one is talking about.

Zero Tolerance = Zero Response

In any scenario where there is a threat, in this case predatory behavior, we can address the threat in 3 ways: Prevent/Protect, Detect, or Correct.

Prevention/Protection is our best option. However with predatory behavior it is the most challenging, mainly due to the fact that predators do not change their behavior. This is a character disorder that can not be easily treated.

A Zero Tolerance policy stripping the offender of their credentials is a Correction AFTER THE FACT and after being caught. This is as good as no response because it does not deter the predatory behavior or place boundaries and limits on how instructors and students will interact.

More needs to be done to lay a foundation of prevention and detection.

Understand the Enemy

There will always be predators in every institution and every business.

This is starting point for prevention; raising the collective conscious and awareness of what predatory behavior is, and what signals, scenarios and warning signs encourage or enable this behavior to occur.

According to the Department of Justice, recidivism rates of predators is not good. Recidivism refers to the tendency for the offender to reoffend. Summary analysis shows:

  • Observed recidivism rates of sex offenders are underestimates of actual reoffending.
  • Measurement variations across studies (operational definitions, length of the follow-up period, populations being studied, methods used) often produce disparate findings.
  • Sexual recidivism rates range from 5 percent after three years to 24 percent after 15 years.
  • The rates of recidivism for general crime are higher than those for sex crimes.
  • Different types of sex offenders have different rates of recidivism.

Two of my best friends are 25+ year vets in law enforcement working to combat and monitor sexual offenders and child predators.

They have a unique point of view that most don’t.

They’ve only ever dealt with the worst of the worst.

They dont get to have days off from sick people.

Their contention is:

  • Recidivism is high. Predators don’t change their behaviors.
  • 1 on 1 time or communications between a student and instructor should not occur.
  • No phone or texting should occur between a student and teacher.
  • Parents should always be involved in all training and communications between instructor and student.
  • Instill confidence in your children to speak up and identify situations that make them more susceptible to it.
  • Leaders and parents should encourage open communication from their children to report suspicious behavior or actual incidents to help reduce the shame a child might feel/experience.

Other prevention options business entities can use include:

  • Conducting background checks (criminal and financial)
  • Check all public sexual offender registries https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/sex-offender-registry
  • Providing continuous education and credentialing requirements for instructors
  • Establishing standards and retesting.
  • Creating a culture of awareness and enablement for identifying and reporting potential incidents.
  • Having REAL talks and training about spotting and reporting abuse and providing communication channels/hotlines to report suspicious activity.

Bottom Line

Organizational values reflect those of their leaders.

Being ill-prepared is not an option or an adequate response.

Aiding known predatory behavior should also be punishable to the individuals that help enable and support known predatory behavior.

Remember that black belts don’t make people have better values.

As parents of children it is on us to know the instructors and environment we are allowing our children to train.

Do your research and stay involved…always.

Other Jiujitsu leaders in the community should also be vocal about addressing the best ways to raise awareness and spot and report suspicious behavior.

In no way should this behavior ever be condoned.

Stay aware. Stay educated. Stay vigilant. Hold others accountable. And never waiver.

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