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Old 03-19-2008, 03:29 PM   #88
Marc Abrams
Dojo: Aikido Arts of Shin Budo Kai/ Bedford Hills, New York
Location: New York
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 1,302
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Re: Very Disturbing news about Clint George

Michael:

I do not recall people people in this thread pouring out their sympathies for Clint George. You aptly described the awareness of a person's actions. You are absolutely correct is acknowledging that ANY type of sexual relationship between a child and an adult is simply wrong.

People who have known Mr. George (some quite well) are genuinely shaken. They are struggling with trying to reconcile the person whom they know with the unacceptable acts (groping, e-mails) that he was alleged to have done. The people with whom I have spoken to, who know Mr. George, do not have sympathy for him, but their is a genuine sense of sadness and disbelief. Mr. George was always spoken about in respectful-to-glowing terms, both in terms of him as a person, and he as an Aikidoka. The few times I had met him (translating at the Aiki Expo's), I had left with a positive impression of him. That was why I was dumbstruck by what he was alleged to have done.

My sympathies go immediately to the victim. Whether or not these allegations are true, she is now a victim. Secondarily, my sympathies go out to the community, family and friends of Mr. George. Having to reconcile and try and live with someone you might either know well, or love, with what was alleged, is no easy feat. FInally, my sympathies go to the Aikido world, because regardless of whether he is found guilty of what he was charged with, his career is ruined. With it, goes a host of knowledge from his times training in Japan.

If what was alleged did happen, that unfortunate child will have a large, undeserved, burden to have to now navigate through in her life. No penalty imposed can equal, or negate the damage that might have been done. Justice then becomes a word that rings quite hollow.

Michael, you serve in the law enforcement end of things. Those of us who serve as treaters see the damages done to the victims and the damaged people who commit unspeakable acts. The tragedy is that the damage done to many of these people earlier in their lives, cause them to repeat horrors in their lives. Our concern for the aggressor's damage should in no way be construed as sympathy. Understanding and caring for a damaged soul is not sympathy. You are right in that not all people who have been damaged in their lives, go ahead and return the favor to others. Understanding this process and learning how to intervene early is critical in helping to stop this cycle of repeating horrors of the past. It is most unfortunate that the mental health field has such a poor understanding in how to intervene and prevent pedophiles from doing what they do.

Several posters, besides myself, have noted that in certain endeavors/professions, people are trained in how to handle the power-inequity relationships that are part of the endeavor/job. What training to Aikido teachers get before they open their own schools? How many of us know stories of well-known teachers who had a woman in every port? What kind of role models were those teachers? If the incidents alleged regarding Mr. George and Mr. Toyoda should move us in any direction, it should be towards an open discussion in how we can seek to establish ways to prevent this from happening in our community.

As a licensed psychologist in New York State, I had to be fingerprinted and registered with the State of New York since I am a mandated reporter for Child Protective Services. Licensed teachers are as well, so that the State can maintain a database. Should we not act to protect our own community before States try an enact things that do not necessarily work? I would like to hear what other people do in their schools to insure that there is adequate supervision/oversight regarding the teaching of students (of all ages). I for one, plan on drafting a letter to send to the parents of my students (children and teens) explaining the concerns in the Aikido community about the issues of appropriate and inappropriate contact, and working with the parents to draft guidelines that will be posted in regards to this issue. I will have an open discussion among the adult students, for their input as well.

We cannot fully prevent these types of unacceptable acts from happening in our society, let alone our art. I think that if many of us can agree upon basic standards that help to maintain appropriate boundaries and behaviors, then it will become easier to identify potential problems in our communities when people are known to deviate from acceptable standards of practice. That might be a start, which is better than having done nothing to address a real issue.

Marc Abrams
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