Adapting the Curriculum

This curriculum is intended for adaptation by users and can be amended to reflect the following considerations.

The Audience

This curriculum is designed for audiences of representatives from professions who are involved or interested in sex offender management. The material is particularly relevant for line supervision agency staff and for members of collaborative interagency teams—including victim advocates—who are involved in sex offender management.

Users are encouraged to adapt the materials to provide more detail for some audiences and less for others based on their questions and substantive needs.

The Time Available for Training

This curriculum is designed as a full two-day training session. The time can be further varied, depending on the amount of participant discussion included and the number of learning activities used. Trainers may want to consider covering the material during several sessions over a number of weeks or months.

The Number of Participants and the Importance of Audience Interaction

Much of the curriculum can be delivered in lecture style, supplemented by learning activities and discussions. It is strongly recommended, regardless of the audience size, that trainers make plans for substantial discussions and substantive exchanges among small groups of participants. This curriculum reflects an exercise in adult learning and users should assume that the experiences and knowledge bases of the participants will be a valuable part of their training experiences. Disagreements, debates, and supporting examples of individuals’ own experiences are likely to emerge, and small groups (of 25 people or less, if possible) provide an appropriate setting to processes audience members’ reactions to the material that is presented. Each group should have a skilled trainer or facilitator assigned to manage it.

Local Environment

It was not possible to develop a curriculum that reflects sex offender management approaches and practices in all jurisdictions across the nation. Much of what is offered is relatively new and may not comport with available resources or expertise. For instance, in many jurisdictions victim services may not exist or be readily available to the members of or agencies in the community where the training is being conducted—either because of funding constraints or the limited availability of agengies or advocates to offer these services—users will probably want to modify the curriculum to reflect this. If this is the case, trainers may want to develop some discussion questions or exercises to begin to plan for increasing access—either through pursuing more support or funding options, or through working with local service providers to encourage the development or enhancement of victim services in their community.

Varying Knowledge Levels of Participants

One of the important lessons CSOM has learned in delivering training in a variety of settings and jurisdictions is that often the participants represent a wide spectrum of experience and knowledge about sex offenders and issues related to their management. Some participants may be new supervision officers who have never supervised a case load. Others may be seasoned specialized officers who possess extensive experience working with sex offenders and collaborating with victim advocates, treatment providers, and others.

It is suggested that users make every effort to ensure that the training is as meaningful and relevant to their audiences as possible. For example, trainers may want to survey participants well in advance of the session they conduct to develop a clear sense of their experience, knowledge level, and questions regarding working with victims and victim advocates when managing sex offenders. If there is a wide variation in participants’ knowledge level and experience, trainers may consider clustering those who are similar into discussion groups. This would allow more seasoned participants to exchange ideas, react to the materials presented, and provide support to one another. At the same time, inexperienced officers could share with one another the unique challenges they face in their work. Conversely, users might take a different approach, deliberately mixing participants who possess different levels of experience. In this situation, those who are not as familiar with sex offender management issues can query those who bring more knowledge to the training.

Consideration of Victims

The presence of a victim advocate who is skilled at working with victims is a particularly important aspect of a training team. Users should be prepared for the fact that there may be survivors of sexual abuse in the audience, and that they may have strong reactions to the material that is presented. It is important for trainers to be prepared to validate and support the survivors of sexual assault in the context of the training, and to identify resources (such as local sexual assault crisis services or victim advocacy organizations) to whom participants can be referred, if they need or want further assistance.

Adult Learning

Perhaps the most important caution for anyone planning this training is to remember that this is an opportunity for adult learning. Participants bring to trainings extensive knowledge and rich sets of experiences that affect how they process the information that is provided. Therefore and as stressed earlier, users of the materials in this curriculum should not plan events with only lectures. Instead, trainers are strongly encouraged to avail themselves of the exercises and discussion questions that are provided, as participants take away much more useful and practical information when they have opportunities to engage faculty members and their colleagues in discussions that relate to the material that is presented to their own and their agencies’ work.

Descriptive vs. Prescriptive Information

One of CSOM’s primary responsibilities is to facilitate information exchanges among the stakeholders involved in sex offender management. This curriculum draws heavily upon the practical experiences of individuals who are involved in the management of sex offenders and/or the delivery of services to victims of sexual assault, and attempts to strike a balance between simply describing a range of practices on the one hand and, on the other, articulating what seems to be emerging as effective practice based upon the existing research. This curriculum has been designed to provide trainers with as much information as possible so that they can make informed decisions regarding how they broach the material with their live audiences.

Qualifications of Trainers

Every attempt has been made to ensure that the materials in this training curriculum are complete, and that they identify and include relevant and helpful reference materials and resources that can be provided to audiences. However, it may be helpful if those who present the information in this curriculum have experience in managing or supervising sex offenders as well as in training and group facilitation. Additionally, sections of the curriculum that deal with issues related to the incidence, prevalence, and consequences of sexual assault might best be delivered by an advocate or victim services provider with particular expertise in the area of sexual assault.

Team Training

Based on emerging practices in jurisdictions around the nation, this training promotes and encourages a multi–disciplinary, collaborative approach to sex offender management. As such, CSOM recommends that trainers who have experience in sex offender supervision be joined by others representing the various professions with whom a supervision officer would likely collaborate—particularly victim advocates or those who provide treatment to the victims of sexual assault. This approach will ensure that the expertise and insights of others who share responsibility for sex offender management are shared during the training and that the collaborative approach that is discussed in the curriculum is modeled by those who conduct the training.

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