“The Truth Behind the Headlines”: Media Portrayals and Their Impacts on the Relatives of Sex Offenders

Title: “The Truth Behind the Headlines”: Media Portrayals and Their Impacts on the Relatives of Sex Offenders
Authors: Vaz, Marshneil
Date: 2015
Abstract: Traditionally, emphases in the mass media coverage of almost all crimes have been placed on the alleged offender and the victim (and on occasion, their families). As a result, the families of offenders have been either largely ignored or presented unfairly even though their lives have also been devastatingly impacted by the media coverage of their loved one. While scholars have explored the impacts of offending on offenders’ relatives, this exploratory study adds to the literature by focusing on a uniquely marginalized sub-population of relatives of sex offenders in Canada. This study examines some of the collateral consequences of sex offending on the relatives, while focusing primarily on the impacts and effects of media coverage on these relatives. The findings of this study are based on a thematic analysis of nine in-depth semi-structured interviews with partners, mothers and daughters of Canadian adult male sex offenders. Drawing on the theoretical contributions of Herbert Blumer’s (1969) symbolic interactionism and Erving Goffman’s (1963) stigma, this research finds that relatives of sex offenders encounter a myriad of consequences and repercussions resulting from a loved one’s sexually offending behaviour. In particular, the interview data suggests that the media coverage of a loved one’s criminalized behaviour exacerbates many of the already difficult and challenging collateral consequences, as well as the overall stigmatizing effects that arise when a loved one engages in sexually offending behaviour. Recommendations, offered by the participants, regarding future media reporting practices are presented, along with important directions for future research within this area of study.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/32086
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -