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  #1  
Old 11-23-2005, 12:31 AM
Rodgers01 Rodgers01 is offline
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The sex lives of the mentally handicapped?

This thread got me thinking. Suppose you have a mentally handicapped 25 year old who has been officially diagnosed as having the mental capacity of a 12 year old. Would/should having sex with that person constitute statutory rape, either legally or morally? And let's push it to an extreme -- say you've got a 25 year old with the mental capacity of a 5 year old. Is it moral/legal to have sex with them, even if they claim to be willing? On the one hand it would clearly be easy to manipulate and exploit a person in this situation. On the other hand, it doesn't seem quite fair to deny these people any and all sexual experience for their entire lives. What do you think??
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  #2  
Old 11-23-2005, 12:38 AM
Blalron Blalron is offline
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This is more of a factual question than a great debate probably. Yes, it can be illegal to have sex with someone who is above the legal age of consent but mentally handicapped to such a degree that they can't give meaningful consent. If I can dig up any info on how exactly the line is drawn I'll post it here.
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  #3  
Old 11-23-2005, 01:22 AM
SnakesCatLady SnakesCatLady is offline
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I have questions about that, myself. Especially concerning birth control. It hardly seems fair to deny a person sex, but if they are not capable of caring for children, who is responsible?
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  #4  
Old 11-23-2005, 01:26 AM
John_Stamos'_Left_Ear John_Stamos'_Left_Ear is offline
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I think that it should be noted that one doesn't need to be aged in order to feel sexual pleasure. Toddlers are known to masturbate and it is not uncommon for prepubescent children to harbor sexual urges and have orgasms. However, just because a ten year old knows what sexual pleasure is and even seeks it out doesn't mean an adult can have their way with the child. I believe that the same would hold true for an incapable adult, at least morally and probably legally.
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  #5  
Old 11-23-2005, 01:35 AM
Rodgers01 Rodgers01 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John_Stamos'_Left_Ear
However, just because a ten year old knows what sexual pleasure is and even seeks it out doesn't mean an adult can have their way with the child. I believe that the same would hold true for an incapable adult, at least morally and probably legally.
But then does that mean that we deny mentally handicapped people access to any sexual pleasure with another person...forever? For the rest of their lives? Isn't that denying them some kind of fundamental human right?

I'm really on shakey ground here, but is it not the case that minors can have sex with other minors, but the legal trouble happens if a minor has sex with an adult? To apply that analogy to the mentally handicapped, is it more acceptable if a mentally handicapped person has sex with another mentally handicapped person, rather than a person of normal intelligence/capability?
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  #6  
Old 11-23-2005, 07:54 AM
JThunder JThunder is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodgers01
I'm really on shakey ground here, but is it not the case that minors can have sex with other minors...
Not entirely, no. The law would look mighty poorly on parents who allowed their six-year-old children to copulate with the neighborhood kids, for example. The children would not be prosecuted (for obvious reasons), but I'm guessing that the parents probably would be.

Things do get murkier as the children approach their teens; however, the point remains that sex between minors is not tolerated outright.
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  #7  
Old 11-23-2005, 08:22 AM
smiling bandit smiling bandit is offline
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While this is not entirely moot, I note that most such individuals probably don't get much TLC, ifyaknowwhatImean. That same intellect problem makes them very unlikely canidates for, ah, mushy stuff - with normal peeps.
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  #8  
Old 11-23-2005, 08:47 AM
Kalhoun Kalhoun is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodgers01
But then does that mean that we deny mentally handicapped people access to any sexual pleasure with another person...forever? For the rest of their lives? Isn't that denying them some kind of fundamental human right?

I'm really on shakey ground here, but is it not the case that minors can have sex with other minors, but the legal trouble happens if a minor has sex with an adult? To apply that analogy to the mentally handicapped, is it more acceptable if a mentally handicapped person has sex with another mentally handicapped person, rather than a person of normal intelligence/capability?
My ex (who dated and married our 15 year old babysitter) worked at a home for mentally retarded teens and adults. He said they're getting lots of sex all the time. The girls were almost all on the pill (without their knowledge...theoretically they might refuse to take it in order to get favors or privileges -- so they thought it was better they didn't know they were on it). It is probably illegal in most places for a mentally competent adult to have sex with a mentally retarded person. I have no cites, but I recall seeing this issue in the news on more than one occasion.
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  #9  
Old 11-23-2005, 08:50 AM
plnnr plnnr is offline
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My wife, who is a pscyhotherapist, worked for a time at a facility for the mentally retarded in SC. She's got first hand experience in this so I'll ask her tonight and report back.
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  #10  
Old 11-23-2005, 09:53 AM
jsgoddess jsgoddess is offline
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I think this is a very grey, very difficult area.

Some mentally handicapped persons could have consequence-free sex. Some couldn't. Some are able to express "consent" (even if not legally binding consent). Others aren't.

With teens, if there's a blanket "no sex" policy at least they'll grow out of it. It's not a permanent state. It may be unfair, but at least it's not forever.
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  #11  
Old 11-23-2005, 10:50 AM
Duck Duck Goose Duck Duck Goose is offline
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The Better Half's family all do adult foster care in Michigan--have done so since the 1970s--and whenever a mentally handicapped female resident displays interest in sex (usually she develops a serious crush on another, male, resident and there ensues a lot of hugging and kissing), she is put on birth control. It isn't something that is run past her as an option, it's, "Here's your pill you take every day", generally without explanation, since she wouldn't be able to really comprehend it anyway. (When a male resident gets horny about another female resident, and she doesn't reciprocate his interest, they are simply separated--one is moved to a different home.)

Quote:
On the other hand, it doesn't seem quite fair to deny these people any and all sexual experience for their entire lives.
Possibly, but what you're missing is that usually these people have family members, and those family members would, in my experience, be extremely upset to find that their mentally handicapped daughter/sister/sister-in-law/niece living in an adult foster care home was being permitted by the home's operators to be sexually active, perceiving (correctly) that she was only 5, or 12, years old and thus not capable of adult consent. The birth control is not intended to enable sex; it's to prevent conception, as it is widely acknowledged that "if they're gonna, they're gonna".

But the home's operators do their best to keep track of her, and to put various monkey wrenches in the machinery of rendezvous: there was the horny lawn-mowing resident from House #1 who was not permitted to come in the house of House #2, as there was a female resident in House #2 who was all too happy to accomodate him out in the tool shed. She used to peer longingly at him out the windows as he mowed the lawn, she not being allowed to leave the house while he was there, with him peering wistfully up at the house. And yes, she was on BC pills.

And you say, "Oh, the poor things, why not allow them some happiness?" Well, because she had a sister and BIL who would have gone ballistic if they found out that her "Boyfriend", who she talked about all the time and who they thought was just a harmless fantasy, was an actual up-against-the-wall lay, out in the tool shed.

There are also taxpayers who would be extremely upset at any condoning of sexual activity in a taxpayer-funded institution, so officially, it doesn't happen, and steps are indeed taken, most of the time, to see that it doesn't.
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  #12  
Old 11-23-2005, 11:33 AM
saoirse saoirse is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duck Duck Goose
...And you say, "Oh, the poor things, why not allow them some happiness?" Well, because she had a sister and BIL who would have gone ballistic if they found out that her "Boyfriend", who she talked about all the time and who they thought was just a harmless fantasy, was an actual up-against-the-wall lay, out in the tool shed.

There are also taxpayers who would be extremely upset at any condoning of sexual activity in a taxpayer-funded institution, so officially, it doesn't happen, and steps are indeed taken, most of the time, to see that it doesn't.
But that doesn't address why they should be denied in any moral, or even legal sense. It only explains why caregivers pervent them from having sex. Families go ballistic over a lot of things. Most people pay taxes for things they find offensive. So aside from the fact that the Director will get yelled at, or there will be irate letters to the editor, what is their justification?
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  #13  
Old 11-23-2005, 11:53 AM
clairobscur clairobscur is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duck Duck Goose
But the home's operators do their best to keep track of her, and to put various monkey wrenches in the machinery of rendezvous: there was the horny lawn-mowing resident from House #1 who was not permitted to come in the house of House #2, as there was a female resident in House #2 who was all too happy to accomodate him out in the tool shed. She used to peer longingly at him out the windows as he mowed the lawn, she not being allowed to leave the house while he was there, with him peering wistfully up at the house. And yes, she was on BC pills.



I'm sorry, but I can't think of this as being right. Maybe it made the brother-in-law and the taxpayer happier, but it's still not right.
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  #14  
Old 11-23-2005, 11:54 AM
Kalhoun Kalhoun is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saoirse
But that doesn't address why they should be denied in any moral, or even legal sense. It only explains why caregivers pervent them from having sex. Families go ballistic over a lot of things. Most people pay taxes for things they find offensive. So aside from the fact that the Director will get yelled at, or there will be irate letters to the editor, what is their justification?
I think some enlightened families understand this and depending on the degree of handicap, allow them to date and marry (supervised marriage, of course). To tell you the truth, I think it creeps most people out. I think it reminds them of small children doing it, which in a sense, I suppose is accurate.
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  #15  
Old 11-23-2005, 11:55 AM
clairobscur clairobscur is offline
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Actually, it's not "not right", it's terribly wrong.
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  #16  
Old 11-23-2005, 12:27 PM
Duck Duck Goose Duck Duck Goose is offline
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Well, in the case I was referring to, She was mentally and emotionally about 12 years old, and He was mentally and emotionally about 14. In real life, how would you feel about a 12-year-old and a 14-year-old having a long-term sexual relationship?
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  #17  
Old 11-23-2005, 01:07 PM
jsgoddess jsgoddess is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duck Duck Goose
Well, in the case I was referring to, She was mentally and emotionally about 12 years old, and He was mentally and emotionally about 14. In real life, how would you feel about a 12-year-old and a 14-year-old having a long-term sexual relationship?
If they were going to be that age forever, I would try to get used to the idea.
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  #18  
Old 11-23-2005, 01:15 PM
Shalmanese Shalmanese is offline
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IMHO, assigning equivilant mental ages to handicapped people, especially in the instance of sexual maturity, is unhelpful.
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  #19  
Old 11-23-2005, 01:42 PM
Duck Duck Goose Duck Duck Goose is offline
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Why is it "unhelpful"? If you need to make a judgement call about whether a person is capable of understanding something, it's a basic procedure to ask, "How old is he? Does he really comprehend what's going on here?" A parent disciplining a child, a judge sentencing a teenager, an employer interviewing teenage summer help--they both ask the same question.

You can't just look at a handicapped person and not make some kind of categorization of functionality, because they're all different. You need to have a yardstick, a way to determine what's the best thing to do with this person. Someone who's only 5 years old inside his head shouldn't be given an apartment and a bus pass and a job at the Shelter Care workshop. Conversely, someone who's 14 years old mentally shouldn't be cooped up all day every day in the foster care home with only the TV for company, and meals to look forward to.

So you use this yardstick for sexuality as for everything else in the person's life--whether he's expected to be able to brush his own hair, potty himself, feed himself, read books to himself, get himself to work on time. Why discard the yardstick just for this one aspect of his life? Just because he's sexually mature doesn't mean he's capable of understanding the consequences of his behavior. Suppose the Lawn Mower is given free rein to roger the Wistful Maiden out in the tool shed whenever he feels like it--is he going to understand that this doesn't mean he has a license to roger anything female that he feels like, with its attendant possibilities of venereal diseases, pregnancy, and date rape?

And what about the Wistful Maiden? If she's only 12 years old inside her head, is it fair to allow him to use a 12-year-old for what amounts to nothing more than sexual release, given that she (let alone he) couldn't possibly understand anything about the realities of an adult sexual relationship, nor about the reasons (disease, rape, etc.) why she shouldn't just go out and get routinely laid by anything in trousers?

Unless you're going to argue that they don't need to have an adult relationship to go along with the sex, in which case I guess I don't have a talking point here.
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  #20  
Old 11-23-2005, 03:35 PM
Kythereia Kythereia is offline
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This looks like a a good cite on the issue.

Canadian law says:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Canadian Criminal Code
153.1 (1) Every person who is in a position of trust or authority towards a person with a mental or physical disability or who is a person with whom a person with a mental or physical disability is in a relationship of dependency and who, for a sexual purpose, counsels or incites that person to touch, without that person's consent, his or her own body, the body of the person who so counsels or incites, or the body of any other person, directly or indirectly, with a part of the body or with an object, is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or

(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding eighteen months.
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  #21  
Old 11-23-2005, 04:07 PM
Kalhoun Kalhoun is offline
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I agree with the Duckmeister. also think people with certain levels of development CAN maintain a sexual relationship without fear of compromising anyone's best interest. And I think a relationship can be monitored without being too intrusive, to make sure nothing gets out of hand (i.e., relationship rape). You definitely need to consider mental age when determining if a mentally retarded adult can conduct an intimate relationship.
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  #22  
Old 11-23-2005, 04:27 PM
clairobscur clairobscur is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duck Duck Goose
Well, in the case I was referring to, She was mentally and emotionally about 12 years old, and He was mentally and emotionally about 14. In real life, how would you feel about a 12-year-old and a 14-year-old having a long-term sexual relationship?

But they're not 12 and 14 yo. That it could require some monitoring in order to avoid abuses I can understand but they should be granted as much autonomy as possible, and not be denied what they both wish, both sexually and emotionnally, from your description. And especially not because it grosses out the brother- in-law.
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  #23  
Old 11-24-2005, 07:31 AM
Duck Duck Goose Duck Duck Goose is offline
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Quote:
But they're not 12 and 14 yo.
Clair, I have the feeling you're not seeing my point. They are 12 and 14 years old--mentally. Just because their bodies may calendrically add up to "over 18" doesn't mean that the minds inside those bodies are capable of making thoughtful, rational decisions about what to do with those bodies.

Question: if Lawn Mower decided that what he wanted to do with his body was go out and get puking drunk, do you think his AFC home operator should allow it?

The mentally handicapped are considered "children", and as "children" they are not considered to be responsible for their acts, and as "children" their behaviors are, necessarily, monitored, in order to prevent them from doing damage to themselves, other people, and Society in general.

And it would be damaging for a 14-year-old to be allowed to have sex with a 12-year-old. No matter how old their bodies may be, their minds are still pre-teen/young teen. And Society understands that, and makes provision to see that they don't use those adult bodies for harm.

It's not just a question of "grossing out the BIL". It's a question of "grossing out" Society in general, which perceives them as children, and which finds the idea of sex between children to be "gross".

Look at it from a feminist POV, too: the WM wouldn't understand the sex act, because pre-adolescents don't. She would merely lie there passively and allow him to do her. Do you think that's a Good Thing? Do you think she would come? How are you going to make sure she was enjoying herself, so that it wasn't simply the Lawn Mower getting his rocks off, 50 pumps and a squirt, and then it's done, and she can go tell everybody about her "boyfriend"? I don't consider that even a "relationship", let alone an adult sexual relationship.

When normally-functioning teenage girls have a relationship in which they put out for their boyfriends, but without receiving sexual pleasure themselves, we consider it abnormal. Why should Wistful Maiden be any different? Looks pretty one-sided to me. Unless you're making sure that she's getting an equivalent amount of sexual pleasure from the act, it looks to me like all she gets out of it is being able to brag about her "boyfriend" in a pre-adolescent sort of way, whereas Lawn Mower gets actual sexual release. Sounds like he's being served the full meal, while she only gets to tell people she was sitting at the table.

Another question: have you personally ever interacted with, or been acquainted with a mentally handicapped person who was low-functioning enough that s/he was in an institutional environment such as Adult Foster Care? I'm not talking about the ones who are high-functioning enough that they have Independent Living apartments and bus passes, nor about the Down syndrome ones who still live at home with their families. I'm talking about the seriously mentally retarded adults who are in institutions.
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  #24  
Old 11-24-2005, 11:10 AM
Pjen Pjen is offline
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Let's take a step back and ask a basic question:

When should the State intervene in sexual relationships/marriage relationships between people?

An age limit (chronological) is set by most administrations. This can range from 12 up to 18 years of age- restricting sexual relations and marriage. This transfer to adult status is automatic unless we decide something different is happening.

Lessened competence in one or both parties will affect the right of the State to intervene.

Likelihood of abuse of position of power and authority may be an issue.

Other famililial relationship restrictions may be imposed- blood relationship (incest) (and other relationship closeness) familial proximity.

These seem to be the usual tests for state intervention.

Learning Disability/Mental Handicap/Retardation does not exist as a clear and operationally valid category for making any decision. The case should be decided as above for valued citizens.

It seems to me that the four criteria above are sufficient for making such decisions. The criteria should be applied to people identified as mentally impaired as for valued people.

The questions which should be asked are these:

What restrictions would be placed on a person in a valued group with the same characteristics.

Mental Age has no meaning and has largely been abandoned by the professions- it is quite possible to have a high IQ and very limited social skills and vice versa. Competence is what matters.

The question to ask is: What is the lowest level of competence that would restrict a valued person from marrying/engaging in sexual activity.

Assume that a valued member of society experiences a dementing illness and gradually loses competence. At what point should the state intervene and stop sexual activity or marriage.

If the person still understands the concept of marriage or the postive and negative outcomes of a sexual relationship, then I can imagine no State intervention in these matters. The point at which it would be assumed that the person was unfit to consent to marriage or sexual activity would be set at a very low level- retaining a very basic understanding of what was involved and its consequences. This is likely to be well below the comprehension of the average 18 16 14 12 and even 10 year old. I would argue that the state would not intervene until it could be shown that the person's understanding of marriage/intercourse was so impaired that they might only retain the social and life skills of a very young child. We don't go round stopping the confused elderly from exercising their sexual and marriage rights until impairment is severe.

I would argue that the same should be applied to people labeled as mentally handicapped. So long as they are able to have a very basic understanding of marriage/intercourse, there is no argument to stop this from happening except chronological age, abuse of authority or familial relationship.

So the test should be- is the person minimally competent to consent to intercourse/marriage. The burden of proof should be on care givers, family members or other concerned people to show clearly before a court of law that the person is so incompetent that no member of society would be permitted to engage in marriage/intercourse. The person concerned should be fully legally represented and also have an independent advocate.

We do not need special rules for people labeled as mentally handicapped- we need to treat them a citizens.
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  #25  
Old 11-24-2005, 03:51 PM
Duck Duck Goose Duck Duck Goose is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pjen
So the test should be- is the person minimally competent to consent to intercourse/marriage. The burden of proof should be on care givers, family members or other concerned people to show clearly before a court of law that the person is so incompetent that no member of society would be permitted to engage in marriage/intercourse. The person concerned should be fully legally represented and also have an independent advocate.
This is how it's set up: the burden of proof is on mental health workers and social workers to establish the person's mental competence. Caregivers and relatives, with or without lawyers, are not allowed any input; it's solely in the jurisdiction of the mental health professionals.

That's just how it works.

And once the mental health professionals have decided how high- or low-functioning a mentally handicapped person is, that's the label they'll carry around with them the rest of their lives. It's not subject to appeal by caregivers, family members, or lawyers.

And once the mentally handicapped person has been officially labeled as so mentally handicapped that they need to be in the custody of the State, then that's the way it is, and that, too, is not subject to appeal by caregivers, family, or lawyers.

There is wiggle room there, yes, for mentally handicapped people to contract marriages, but those are very high-functioning, the ones who have Independent Living apartments and real jobs, and that, too, is a decision handed down by the mental health professionals in the service of the State. That, too, is not subject to appeal by caregivers, family, or lawyers.

An ombudsman for the mentally handicapped person is a pretty idea, but in actual practice their "advocate" is their social worker, who can sometimes be surprisingly effective at getting freedoms for their clients. However, the final decision as to whether a mentally handicapped person is competent enough to live in an apartment, hold down a job at Kroger, or get married is made by mental health professionals.

And is not subject to appeal by caregivers, family, or lawyers.

"Mental Health" and "Social Services" rule. That's the way it's set up.
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  #26  
Old 11-24-2005, 07:52 PM
Rachm Qoch Rachm Qoch is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duck Duck Goose
... However, the final decision as to whether a mentally handicapped person is competent enough to live in an apartment, hold down a job at Kroger, or get married is made by mental health professionals.

And is not subject to appeal by caregivers, family, or lawyers.
Hmm. The mental health professionals claimed my brother would be institutionalized, never be able to work, never read or write, etc. Thank God we never listened to them. Through our encouragement and his dogged determination he's turned out better than most would have imagined. He lives in an apartment and as a matter of fact holds down a job at Kroger.

All too often the mentally handicapped underperform because they're expected to underperform.
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  #27  
Old 11-24-2005, 09:20 PM
clairobscur clairobscur is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duck Duck Goose
Clair, I have the feeling you're not seeing my point. They are 12 and 14 years old--mentally.
I understand your point. But I'm completely unconvinced that having the "mental age" of a 12 yo is the same as actually being a 12 yo child or as having the mindset of a 12 yo.



Quote:
Look at it from a feminist POV, too:
I disagree with this part. From your description, she was very willing. So, even if he had an orgasm and she didn't, it wouldn't be wrong. I assume she wouldn't have spent her time watching him and trying to be with him if it had been a traumatic experience.



Quote:
Another question: have you personally ever interacted with, or been acquainted with a mentally handicapped person who was low-functioning enough that s/he was in an institutional environment such as Adult Foster Care?.
Nope, never. But I can't perceive depriving two people of something they both want as being right. What kind of life is it if you're deprived not only of sex, which, I'm pretty convinced is as strong an urge for them as it is for us (which isn't the case of an actual child), but also of an emotionnal bond?
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  #28  
Old 11-24-2005, 09:32 PM
Guinastasia Guinastasia is offline
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What happens if the girl gets pregnant? Or one of them catches a disease? What then?
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  #29  
Old 11-24-2005, 09:32 PM
clairobscur clairobscur is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duck Duck Goose
And once the mentally handicapped person has been officially labeled as so mentally handicapped that they need to be in the custody of the State, then that's the way it is, and that, too, is not subject to appeal by caregivers, family, or lawyers.
.

That I disagree with. The threshold shouldn't be the same for being in custody of the state and for engaging in a relationship.

One doesn't need to be high fonctionning enough to say take care of a house or hold a regular job in order to be able to enjoy both sexuality and companionship. Like a previous poster, I think that an invidual should have to be extremely impaired to be denied these opportunities. And it doesn't seem to be the case of the persons you're refering to. They both seem to know pretty well what they want, and still from your description, they have a significant autonomy.
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  #30  
Old 11-24-2005, 09:36 PM
clairobscur clairobscur is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinastasia
What happens if the girl gets pregnant? Or one of them catches a disease? What then?


From the posts above, I gather that women are put on the pill. I assume that they're also medically followed.
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  #31  
Old 11-25-2005, 01:25 AM
Pjen Pjen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duck Duck Goose
This is how it's set up: the burden of proof is on mental health workers and social workers to establish the person's mental competence. Caregivers and relatives, with or without lawyers, are not allowed any input; it's solely in the jurisdiction of the mental health professionals.

That's just how it works.

And once the mental health professionals have decided how high- or low-functioning a mentally handicapped person is, that's the label they'll carry around with them the rest of their lives. It's not subject to appeal by caregivers, family members, or lawyers.

And once the mentally handicapped person has been officially labeled as so mentally handicapped that they need to be in the custody of the State, then that's the way it is, and that, too, is not subject to appeal by caregivers, family, or lawyers.

There is wiggle room there, yes, for mentally handicapped people to contract marriages, but those are very high-functioning, the ones who have Independent Living apartments and real jobs, and that, too, is a decision handed down by the mental health professionals in the service of the State. That, too, is not subject to appeal by caregivers, family, or lawyers.

An ombudsman for the mentally handicapped person is a pretty idea, but in actual practice their "advocate" is their social worker, who can sometimes be surprisingly effective at getting freedoms for their clients. However, the final decision as to whether a mentally handicapped person is competent enough to live in an apartment, hold down a job at Kroger, or get married is made by mental health professionals.

And is not subject to appeal by caregivers, family, or lawyers.

"Mental Health" and "Social Services" rule. That's the way it's set up.

I don't disagree with you about the current system inthe US (it is very different in England and Scotland where capacity is the key matter.)

You have not mentioned whether the system I propose- a very low level has to be reached before any rights can be removed, and this should be decided by a legal process with full representation for the person and with an independent advocate (not a mental health or social services worker). How would you feel about that system?

I would disagree with you about the level of social functioniong necessary to carry out a loving and sexual relationship (or at least its formal denial). Each case needs to be judged on the needs and wants of the individual concerned.

Carers (whether formal, voluntary or family) often wish to infantilize and de-humanize people with mental capacity problems ion order to avoid such difficult questions as sexuality, alcohol use, social behaviour etc.. Steps taken to remove such freedoms need to be legally based and limited as they are an extreme threat to the civil rights of people with limited capacity.

I think that this is easier to carry out in Europe where there is a long history of according legal rights to people who would be considered minors in the US.

In the UK children of any age may make decisions about their own medical care if the professionals involved believe that the person has the capacity to understand the reality of the treatment proposed, the likely outcomes, and if the professionals involved believe that such treatment is in the best interests of the person. This is possibly difficult for someone from a more restrictive culture to comprehend, let alone accept. European cultures (continental more than British/Irish) are also more accepting of early sexual intercourse and less condemnatory of alcohol and drug experimentation. European views on criminal culpability allow considerably more latitude to young offenders than is usual in the USA.

Because of the above background it is probably easier for the issue of capacity to be used as the sole criteria for making these decisions.

That is not to say that residential homes in this country don't regularly engage in questionable restrictions on sexual, alcohol and behaviour issues with people with mental problems- but this is not legally protected. If given effective advocacy, such institutional responses can be overcome within the framework of the law on capacity.
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  #32  
Old 11-25-2005, 08:23 AM
Duck Duck Goose Duck Duck Goose is offline
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Quote:
I'm completely unconvinced that having the "mental age" of a 12 yo is the same as actually being a 12 yo child or as having the mindset of a 12 yo.
There's more to the whole Mental Health professional evaluation process than simply measuring their IQ, or "intelligence", and then announcing, "She's the equivalent of a 12 year old"--it also involves emotional maturity, which includes such adult skills as the ability to predict possible consequences of one's behavior. So when I say Wistful Maiden was 12 years old inside her head, I don't mean merely that she had the intelligence of a 12-year-old, I mean very specifically that yes, she had the very definite mindset of a 12-year-old girl, with all the emotional baggage that that entails.

And this is what I was getting at, in asking you if you'd ever interacted with severely mentally handicapped people, not just had a few casual encounters with the "cute" Down syndrome people. Having a conversation with Wistful Maiden could be a rather disconcerting experience, in that you'd be standing there talking to this statuesque 29-year-old blonde--and what was coming out of her mouth was purest Pre-Teen Female Babble. And I've had two teens myself, so I know what Pre-Teen Babble sounds like. I mean, really, Clair, it's nothing to do with arbitrary standards of IQ, this gal was basically twelve years old.

And everybody who had more than 30 seconds of conversation with her knew it, and it was a no-brainer for everyone, from her BIL on down, her caseworker, her Mental Health shrink, her home care provider, to decree that she wasn't mature enough inside her head to really understand what Lawn Mower was wanting to do to her out in the tool shed, and to forbid her from ever being alone with him.

And that's the essence of why sex with children is prohibited, isn't it? It's because they are judged not capable of truly understanding the sex act, of what's being done to them. A normal 12-year-old girl, being molested out in the toolshed by her uncle, doesn't have the ability to predict possible consequences of that behavior. She's passive, immature, she goes along with it, and she may even enjoy the experience, in the sense of "it not hurting". She may even come. But it's not normal, and it doesn't constitute a "relationship". And where I come from, sex should be something that people who are at least "friends" do with each other, even if they don't have a romantic "love" relationship, and the relationship of "friendship that includes sex", i.e. a "fuck buddy", IMO constitutes a complex adult relationship that a 12-year-old can't understand, or be capable of.

Quote:
So, even if he had an orgasm and she didn't, it wouldn't be wrong.
???

Excuse me? Fifty years of Women's Lib, of women finally learning that they don't have to be mere passive receptacles for semen, that sex is supposed to feel good for them, too--all wasted? It's okay with you if she just lies there and allows him to rut on her passive body, then? Fifty pumps and a squirt is okay with you?

Quote:
I assume she wouldn't have spent her time watching him and trying to be with him if it had been a traumatic experience.
So as long as it doesn't hurt, it's okay, then?

I see.

[speechless]

Quote:
But I can't perceive depriving two people of something they both want as being right.
Even if what the Party of the First Part wants involves nothing more than the exploitation of the Party of the Second Part's body, without the Party of the Second Part's informed, adult consent? If a normal 12-year-old girl and her uncle announced that they wanted to have sex, would you consider depriving them of that to be "not right"?

This whole thing seems to stem from your reluctance to believe that Wistful Maiden had the true mindset of a 12-year-old. You seem to be considering that it's just an IQ thing, that she flunked the IQ tests but was still able to handle a boyfriend relationship. But that's not how the Mental Health screening process works, as I mentioned. And the screening process isn't just a one-time exam, like taking your SATs. It starts when the baby is still an infant and the doctor and the parents begin to realize there's something "not quite right" with it. And from that point on, various health professionals, teachers, social services professionals, all of them with their various tests, and of course family members, begin watching that child, observing her, and gradually over the course of years (in Wistful Maiden's case, 29 years), a consensus is reached: she's X number of years old inside her head. And its sorrowful corollary, "She's never going to get any older, she's never going to grow up."

So that's how we all knew that Wistful Maiden couldn't handle a sexual relationship with Lawn Mower--not because she flunked an exam and a shrink arbitrarily decided for her that she couldn't handle a sexual relationship, but because lots of people spent years observing her, and knew this about her, that she was about 12 years old inside her head.

And that 12-year-olds don't have sex.

Quote:
What kind of life is it if you're deprived not only of sex, which, I'm pretty convinced is as strong an urge for them as it is for us (which isn't the case of an actual child), but also of an emotionnal bond?
Well, let's consider that "emotional bond". Lawn Mower, like any other normally sexed male, wanted to have sex with any female that would let him. And inevitably, he probably was going to. So let's suppose we let him and Wistful Maiden set up an ongoing sexual relationship, in which Wistful Maiden considers him her "boyfriend". What's going to happen when she finds out he's been porking someone else? How is she going to feel about that? Remember, she's only 12. She's not going to have the adult resilience to handle that (indeed, grown women have problems handling that situation). Is it fair to set her up for that heartbreak?

Or, conversely, what happens when Lawn Mower finds out she's been putting out for someone else? What happens to that "emotional bond" then?

And that's assuming they even form an "emotional bond" in the first place. The emotional bond that teen males form with the girl they're currently fucking hinges in a large part on future plans, or at least it should, i.e. "Where are we going with this relationship in the future?"--if it's just "this is the girl I'm currently fucking", then we consider that dysfunctional. We expect an emotional bond to form between two people who are in a sexual relationship, even if it's nothing more than "fuck buddy", but it's not safe to assume that two severely mentally handicapped people are capable of even that degree of bonding.

Quote:
The threshold shouldn't be the same for being in custody of the state and for engaging in a relationship.
Well, "shouldn't" is different from "is".

Quote:
They both seem to know pretty well what they want, and still from your description, they have a significant autonomy.
Well, they knew what the wanted in the sense that a 12-year-old girl wants a boyfriend, and is willing to put up with a bit of strange sticky fussing with her panties off in order to be able to say that, and in the sense that a 14-year-old boy wants to get his rocks off.

Look, if Lawn Mower and Wistful Maiden really had been "in love", or "friends", they had ample opportunity to explore that friendship in a non-sexual way. They lived in houses a few blocks from each other in a very small one-stoplight town, they weren't locked up or being held prisoner. They were free to walk over and visit the folks in the other house any time. There were plenty of opportunities for conversation, if they wanted to be "friends". They just weren't allowed to be alone with each other--upstairs, or in the basement, or out in the toolshed. But this they did not do. They weren't "friends". They had no "relationship".

And they weren't high-functioning enough that they could figure out a way to carry out hidden rendezvous, which ought to tell you something about their mindsets and mental capabilities. If you were a teenager with a boyfriend in a house a few blocks away, wouldn't you figure out a way to get over there and see him? Even a normal 14-year-old girl would be able to figure that one out. But Wistful Maiden never did. Typical of 12-year-olds, she stayed in the house, she stayed away from Lawn Mower's house--because her home provider and her case worker told her to. She was respectful of authority, not rebellious, and she never pushed the edge of the envelope. It was Lawn Mower who tended to come over the house when he wasn't mowing the lawn, hoping to persuade her to come outside. But she never defied the authority figures of her providers--which technically, legally, she could have done, as she was over 18--and went outside to him. Doesn't that tell you something about her mindset, about what kind of "relationship" and "bonding" they had?

Quote:
What happens if the girl gets pregnant? Or one of them catches a disease? What then?
Are you asking me, Google-ly, or Clair, rhetorically?

If they caught a disease, of whatever kind, they'd simply be treated the same as with any other illness.

Which means Medicaid, and rock-bottom basic medical care down at whatever local medical practice takes the county's Medicaid patients.

Generally as soon as the females become sexually mature, and the possibility of sexual activity with someone around them becomes evident, they are put on BC, and thus abortion doesn't become an issue. Also, if there are family members who consent to it, the girl will have her tubes tied. I have a friend at church whose daughter is mentally and physically handicapped, permanently frozen at age 11 because of spinal cord trauma at birth, living at home (she's now 22), and when she turned about 14 and suddenly developed an overt interest in the boys at the Shelter Care workship, her mom had her tubes tied. And it was a huge relief to her, too, being freed from the specter of raising a grandbaby as well as an eternally 11-year-old daughter.

Quote:
You have not mentioned whether the system I propose- a very low level has to be reached before any rights can be removed, and this should be decided by a legal process with full representation for the person and with an independent advocate (not a mental health or social services worker). How would you feel about that system?
Sounds splendid. On what planet do you propose to set it up?

Seriously, though, there isn't enough money to pay the caseworkers we already have, and you're talking about setting up a whole new agency, of advocates and lawyers, and there just isn't money for that. You're talking about revamping the entire system. Dream on.
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  #33  
Old 11-25-2005, 09:47 AM
Pjen Pjen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duck Duck Goose

Sounds splendid. On what planet do you propose to set it up?

Seriously, though, there isn't enough money to pay the caseworkers we already have, and you're talking about setting up a whole new agency, of advocates and lawyers, and there just isn't money for that. You're talking about revamping the entire system. Dream on.
Planet Britain- essentially the legal position here in law if not in practice. Any agency would, if challenged by an advocate, would have to show cause for their decision to remove any freedom from a client/resident. Of course, they maight decide to throw the person out of the home/institution because they could not cope with it, or they might go out of their way to avoid advocacy being given to the individual.

See:

http://www.communitycare.co.uk/Artic...ficulties.html

The Current law in Britain:

http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2003/30042--b.htm#30

see especially sections 29-44

especially:

"30 Sexual activity with a person with a mental disorder impeding choice

(1) A person (A) commits an offence if-



(a) he intentionally touches another person (B),



(b) the touching is sexual,



(c) B is unable to refuse because of or for a reason related to a mental disorder, and



(d) A knows or could reasonably be expected to know that B has a mental disorder and that because of it or for a reason related to it B is likely to be unable to refuse.

(2) B is unable to refuse if-



(a) he lacks the capacity to choose whether to agree to the touching (whether because he lacks sufficient understanding of the nature or reasonably foreseeable consequences of what is being done, or for any other reason), or



(b) he is unable to communicate such a choice to A.

(3) A person guilty of an offence under this section, if the touching involved-



(a) penetration of B's anus or vagina with a part of A's body or anything else,



(b) penetration of B's mouth with A's penis,



(c) penetration of A's anus or vagina with a part of B's body, or



(d) penetration of A's mouth with B's penis,

is liable, on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for life."
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  #34  
Old 11-25-2005, 10:09 AM
clairobscur clairobscur is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Paris
Posts: 14,277
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duck Duck Goose
Various interesting comments

I'm going to ask to a friend who's a child psychologist and somewhat familiar with these issues (one of her jobs involved deciding about the "fate" of mentally deficient young adults) what she thinks about this and how it works over here. I probable won't post about it, though, since I don't know when I'll see her. Meanwhile, I bow out of this thread. Thanks for the input.
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  #35  
Old 11-25-2005, 05:39 PM
Guinastasia Guinastasia is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duck Duck Goose

Are you asking me, Google-ly, or Clair, rhetorically?

If they caught a disease, of whatever kind, they'd simply be treated the same as with any other illness.

Which means Medicaid, and rock-bottom basic medical care down at whatever local medical practice takes the county's Medicaid patients.
clairobscur. Because I'm pretty much on your side. I don't believe that poor WM is capable of consenting. It's sad, and we all wish she could have a fulfilling romantic relationship with LM, but it ain't happenin'. And his "oh, well, then she'll be treated..." is far too casual for me. The idea of a mentally handicapped woman, who will be 12 years old until she dies, dealing with herpes or the clap is simply too horrifying to me.
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