How Might Minors In SA Meetings Affect Sexaholics Anonymous?
Here the topic of minors in SA meetings is discussed between sober members of Sexaholics Anonymous in Europe.
Member A wrote:
Dear friends in SA International Central Office and Europe & Middle East Region,
Following a recent inquiry, our Intergroup has discussed the topic of minors in SA meetings and has decided to prepare a position paper to offer to the groups in our area. Before we release the paper, we would like to ask SAICO and EMER for their feedback. This will enable us to improve the document, if necessary. We have also sent it to the Board of our own Region.
To which Member B responded:
Dear Regional Board, Here is a message from [Country] Intergroup with a concept statement about participation of minors in SA meetings. A is asking for feedback on this. In fellowship, B
Participation of minors in SA meetings in [Country]
Dear SA groups in the [Country] Intergroup,
This document has been prepared by the service committee in order to offer some guidance in case a minor wants to attend your meeting. Social trends, such as smartphones with internet access targeted at an ever younger age group, may lead to SA being confronted with this question more frequently in future.
Our traditions say that our primary purpose is to carry our message, and that the only requirement for SA membership is a desire to stop lusting.
The question of whether minors may attend SA meetings has come up. The traditions do not state an age limit. We made an enquiry to Sexaholics Anonymous International Central Office (SAICO) and they told us that with regard to this question the law in each country must be taken into account.
In the United States, for example, no minors are admitted to meetings due to very strict laws that are intended to protect them. Additionally, sexual offenders may have parole conditions that mean they are not permitted to be in the same room as a minor. There are, however, S-Ateen meetings in America – these are supervised by the S-Anon fellowship.
We discussed the question informally with lawyers and therapists in [Country] and found out that written consent from a minor’s parents should be sufficient from a legal point of view, to protect the group from any legal consequences. This consent should be obtained and kept on file in case of potential participation in the meeting.
It is important for each group to retain its autonomy, and the group conscience must decide on this question in each case. When it comes to such an important question, a group conscience decision should be as unanimous as possible, in order to avoid tensions within the group.
If a group is unsure, one option is to invite the minor to take part in one meeting, in order to make a good decision after this trial participation.
Before participation in a group meeting, at least one face-to-face meeting should take place with the young person who wants to take part, together with at least one legal guardian. This is an opportunity to explain how the group meeting works and to ask and answer any questions. Such meetings should never be conducted by one SA member alone, but always by two SA members together.
If a minor is admitted to SA, he/she must be informed that he/she will not be able to attend all SA events (e.g. regional get-togethers, workshops, other groups…), but that this will always have to be decided on a case-by-case basis.
Additionally, it should always be announced at the beginning of the meeting that a minor/minors are participating, and that participants should therefore take special care in their choice of words.
Member C wrote:
Really good document. In fellowship, C
Member D wrote:
Hello A, You have done a lot of work on this. The predicament of having minors in SA meetings does affect our fellowship as a whole! In Europe we may not have the same laws as in USA or Canada to keep (and protect) minors out of the meeting. I do strongly suggest that people attending meeting are legal adults.(same as the SAICO disclaimer). The reason why I suggest this is to keep Us safe from Us!! We do have fellows in our fellowship who have been prosecuted or who have found themselves on the fringe of illegal activities concerning minors. Two years ago, we had an issue come up in our national fellowship and I did some research asking longtime sober members their ESH. Here are two additional points that can be helpful. (1) Always have two longtime sober members, who have no issues on this topic themselves and who are known in consensus with the parents. (2) You can always suggest that they (minors) get professional help. In fellowship, D
Member E wrote:
Hi A. Indeed a very thoughtful work! My thoughts go in the direction of D's and what I heard at the GDA meetings. To allow minors in SA meetings, even with all the precautions you mentioned in the document of the [Country] IG, remains very risky. What if one of the members has had problems with minor issues (porn, etc.) in the past? Or what if an adult member relapses and because of the progressive nature of the disease goes over the boundary of minor porn, etc? What if a minor is already coming for some time and you get an adult newcomer with the problem? Are you going to exclude the adult all of a sudden? Or you get a visitor with the problem? And where is the minor limit age? 16? 14? 12? None? What if a member who normally has no problem with minors gets attracted to the minor after some time? (It happened to me in recovery a few times that I got attracted to young male members, although my lust does normally not even go to men.) What if the minor gets attracted to an adult? The overall consensus of the trustees, two face to face GDA’s ago, was to not do it for the hard and very sad but true reason that we cannot be there for everybody. They added that minors can get professional help. In fellowship, E
Member A wrote:
Hi E, D and all the others, Thanks for your feedback. D, I don't understand how minors in SA meetings is a matter that affects SA as a whole. Each group is autonomous, and if the minor is told to only go to this meeting, and in the beginning of the meeting it is read that this is a meeting where minors can participate which excludes everybody who is legally not allowed to be in this room, then how does this affect SA as a whole? The question in itself does and will affect SA as whole more and more, but I believe not such an individual decision of a certain group. And if a member is struggling with minor porn, that doesn´t mean that the participating minor is in danger!! If the minor continues to act out his sex addiction he is in much more danger of getting raped or kidnapped or whatever by some sick person, than if he is attending a meeting to get over his addiction, even if there might be somebody who is triggered. But this someone is in recovery and wants to stop. A woman can also get recovery in an SA meeting even if there are five "wet" sexaholics who get triggered by her presence..The GDA and the trustees are I believe very US-dominated which may explain their standpoint. They might assume to have similar laws in most other countries. And SAICO told me to search out the laws in our own country. The suggestion that one might go to some therapist is nice, but most people can not afford it and most sexaholics won't be honest with such a person. That suggestion may be of value for maybe 2% of all minors that we would have to exclude. It is true .. We cannot help everyone. In our local fellowship, we are very strict with people who want to stay homosexual or who absolutely exclude marriage, but to GENERALLY exclude minors is making it too easy for ourselves. Getting tempted for me is not an argument. Then we would have to separate men and women also. Sorry for my emotional appeal. In fellowship, A
Member E wrote:
Dear A, I understand your emotional appeal. If I had known of SA when I was 14-18 years old, maybe my disease wouldn't have escalated so far. Nevertheless, I think it needs really good brainstorming, that's what I am contributing to. However, it keeps having unique risks. Comparing it with women between men, or any other comparison, is not at all the same as we are talking about adults between adults then. Here we are talking of minors between adults. Which means that if anything at all would happen, it would be punishable by law. Because of it being punishable by law, it could harm the whole of SA. Anything of this kind that would happen in Australia, New-Zealand, Chili, Belgium or Arkansas, and which would bring a court case and bring SA in discredit, might harm SA as a whole. I think that our fellowship will become the next years less and less popular in the mainstream - permissive - society. We might get attacked for our "gay-unfriendly" sobriety definition. Some people might want to seek for opportunities to bring us in discredit. In fellowship, E
Member A wrote:
Hi E, Same is true for me. I can only add my best thinking to the group conscience. I don't want to claim that my view is correct. Concerning the comparison to women in SA, I don't think the difference is so big, because if a sex offending SA member would stalk or molest a female SA member that would be equally punishable by law. There just may be different laws involved. And if somebody is consuming minor porn, that doesnt make him an offender in real life, much less if he wants to recover and joins SA. (At least in my country I have never heard of a court putting a condition of probation on a sex offender to visit SA meetings, as it might happen in USA (at least with AA I believe), which could in my first quick analysis anyway be in conflict with some traditions (like not being aligned with any organisation and the only requirement for membership is the desire to stop). If a sex offender rapes a 19 year old female SA member which could also become publicly known, that could as much bring SA in discredit and harm SA as a whole. I think that fear (which my sponsor says is always self centered) of being discredited by some court decision or of somebody wanting to harm SA for our "gay-unfriendly" position, is not a good basis for making decisions on how to fulfill our primary purpose. Maybe it would require a special preliminary talk with a newcomer for such a meeting where minors participate. Maybe the parents would have to be informed about such a risk, before they give by signature their approval for their minor to participate. Maybe it is even necessary to have the newcomer meeting open for the required participation of the parents, before they can allow their minor to become SA member. Let's be creative in looking for solutions! In fellowship, A
Member E wrote:
Hi all, Thank you for your further insights A. However, there is clearly a huge difference between two adults in SA agreeing to have sexual relations with each other and sexual relations between an SA adult and an SA minor, even if there was consent. The latter is illegal, can be persecuted and might harm our fellowship. The first would not. Does anyone else has something fruitful to add? In fellowship, E
Member F wrote:
Hi E, I have an open mind on this one. I think this issue won't go away as there seems to be a lot of minors exposed to and consuming porn worldwide especially now on the internet,from a very young age. Alcohol and other drugs are not so readily available as porn to minors that I'm aware of and thus this hasn't been a major issue for AA and other twelve step groups. I wonder if there could be a system like where AA go into prisons and hold meetings. The prison authorities provide a safe space and environment to hold meetings and yet AA is not allied or affiliated with them? I like that we at least are discussing this. In fellowship, F
Member C wrote:
That sounds like a great idea F. I for one could have really benefited from SA in my teens. I do see 17 year olds in AA meetings. We could set up an occasional safe open meeting for teens that would be supervised by two non-SA members maybe. In fellowship, C
Member E wrote:
Hi F, I love that idea of comparing the issue to the AA meetings in the prison system. I agree we have to help them as good as we can AND at the same time that we have to be careful to not harm our fellowship. I think there is a difference between prudence (a virtue I normally don't have but which I try to cultivate) and fear. My motives to be very careful and playing the devil's advocate are as far as I can see not fear-driven but out of care not to harm the life raft we and countless others after us (hopefully also minors) need to stay alive. I agree also we are not in the same culture as the US. I am a fervent supporter of cooperating with others. In fellowship, E