Thanks Task Force Argos

Task Force Argos - part of the Queensland Police Service

Task Force Argos – part of the Queensland Police Service

Earlier today, the Queensland Police Service posted a link on Facebook to this article about the arrest of a 38-year-old Victorian man who flew to Queensland with the intent of meeting a 14-year-old girl he had been interacting with online, and having sex with her.

The investigation, and ultimate arrest, was undertaken by Task Force Argos,  a specialised branch of the Queensland Police Service responsible for the investigation of on-line child exploitation and abuse.  

Task Force Argos was initially established in 1997 as part of the Forde Inquiry which looked into matters of historical child sexual abuse within institutions in Queensland – similar to the current Royal Commission, but on a smaller scale.  Over time, the focus of Task Force Argos has moved from historical cases of child sexual abuse to the online grooming, predation, and abuse of minors.

To say the response on Facebook has been mixed would be an understatement.  As you would probably expect, there are a large number of comments praising the work of Task Force Argos and the Queensland Police Service, but as early as a few minutes after the link was posted, there are also a significant number of comments supporting the ‘victim’ – the 38-year-old who, after establishing a ‘relationship’ (grooming) the minor, flew from Victoria to Queensland with the intent to have sex with said minor.

The comments in support of this ‘victim’ are based on several arguments, some of which include:

  • the act of intercourse did not actually take place (because the ‘victim’ was arrested);
  • the 14-year-old girl did not exist – it was a member of Task Force Argos the ‘victim’ had been grooming;
  • there is nothing wrong with an adult male having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl;
  • 14-year-old girls are asking for it anyway.

At first I was a bit lost for words at the backlash against the arrest, but after thinking it over for some time, I can’t really say I am surprised – neither by the number of people supporting the ‘victim’, nor by the arguments put forward.  I have witnessed these reactions so many times before, and sadly, even from people very close to me.

Would it make any difference if the age of the minor had been 8, or 10, or 6, or any other age younger than 14?  I doubt it.  I have seen and heard too many times people support the predator rather than then prey, regardless of the situation, circumstances, or ages of either party.

The difficulty I have, is in understanding such a point of view.

In relation to this particular case, Queensland law says the age of consent, that is, the age at which an individual has the cognitive capacity to make an informed decision regarding the act of sexual intercourse – meaning they can think about and understand all of the consequences resulting from having sex – is 16.  Therefore, any individual under the age of 16 is, in the eyes of the law, a minor.  There can not be any legal argument which supports a person who INTENTIONALLY seeks out a minor with the INTENT to have sex with them.

My personal perspective on those who support the ‘victim’ (the 38-year-old who flew across two states to have sex with a minor) is that they should also be investigated by Task Force Argos.  I know there will be so many people who disagree with me and yelling, “What for?” at me, but surely even thinking the sexual violation of a child – a minor, an individual who does not have the cognitive capacity to make an informed decision – surely even thinking such an act is okay should cause alarm bells to ring about the safety of the children who are in close contact with these people?

Sexual abuse of a child can happen in one, yes ONE, second.  It does not necessarily require days, weeks, or months of grooming, chatting, flirting, or desensitising.  Sexual abuse of a child can happen in an instant, and if so many people out there are thinking it is okay for an adult to have sex with a child, how many more of them think it is okay to sexually abuse a child without penile penetration?

Thank God for Task Force Argos and other units like it, because if we, as adults in the general population, do not care enough about children to think it is wrong to sexually abuse them, at least the children have someone on their side, looking out for them.

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Steering my own ship

Who is steering your ship?

Who is steering your ship?

With so many people I know struggling with all sorts of different challenges of late, I have been interested to observe the different ways we tend to go about dealing with the difficulties life sends our way.

I have been surprised to find that, even though there are no commonalities in the problems being faced, the way we approach problems and try to overcome them seems to fall into two broad categories.  On the one hand are people who, although their ship is being pounded and tossed about on life’s ocean, they never take their hands off the wheel.  They, ultimately, remain in control of their direction, even though they may have been blown far off course by the storms they encounter.

On the other hand are people who, at the very first sign of a swell abandon ship and start thrashing about in the water, creating more waves for themselves.  Slowly, but surely, they pull others into the water with them, and together, even though they appear active and make lots of noise, they really do nothing more than tread water while their ship floats aimlessly by.

It is important to note that these observations do not carry any value judgements on my part.  We all live our lives to the best of our ability, regardless of our methods.

What I take away from this personally, is that I want to be one of the people who never take their hand off the wheel.  I want to be able to stick with it, no matter what, and not lose sight of my desired destination, even though hard times make everything seem overwhelming.  I want to enjoy the challenge, not fear it.  I want to feel the satisfaction of have having passed through the storm without ever having doubted my abilities as Captain of my own ship.

I know there have been times when I have just thrown up my hands and abandoned ship in the past – I don’t want it to happen in the future, because if I’m not steering my ship, who is?

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Healing wonders of nature

The wonders of natureIt never ceases to amaze me how much mood and mind can be affected by such simple things.

My partner and I walked through this gorge this morning, and the fresh air, exercise, and healing wonders of nature have done more for my state of mind in a couple of hours than any other medication or technique has achieved in months.

It has been a beautiful start to the weekend.

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Mask of conformity and existence

Mask of conformity and existence

Mask of conformity and existence

At what point do you throw your hands in the air and admit defeat?  How many walls do you have to slam your head into before you say, “It’s all too hard?”  How many times does the rug have to be pulled from under your feet before you walk away from a dream?

In this “City of Opportunity” it seems the opportunities are all too few.  

Too qualified. Not qualified enough.  Too soon.  Too late.  Not enough experience.  Too much experience.  Not well enough connected.  Too ‘alien’.  

A roller-coaster day of possibilities, slammed into oblivion one-by-one.  The result is a feeling of deflation, exhaustion, loneliness, and incompetence.  The energy required to pick myself up, and dust myself off is lacking.  The buffeting waves of optimism followed by decimation has left me drowning in self-doubt.  When will I ever reach the calm shores of contentment and usefulness?  Is it even possible?

As I sit here trying to discern rational from irrational, real from delusion, truth from falsehoods, I find myself sinking deeper into a pit of confusion.  I’m not sure what to do, where to go, who to see, and yet, all the while my dream is disintegrating before my eyes.   Years of work seem to have evaporated and mean nothing.  My direction, once marked by a line of bright checkpoints has been eradicated – sabotaged?  I’m back in the dark with no purpose, no meaning, no reason, and no desire.

If this is not the path I should be on, where exactly should I be?  If everything that led me here has guided me to the wrong place, where did I lose direction?  See, even my belief in ‘what’s meant to be will be’ has deserted me, and left me wondering at my abandonment – what did I do wrong?

Sit and connect - man, how many times have I heard that advice, given it to others?  Why is it not working?  

Constrained and restrained, that’s how I would describe how I feel when I try to ‘sit and connect’.  Tied down.  Buried alive.  Suffocating.  

Even if I had the desire to fight and gasp for air, I don’t think it’s going to help much.  Besides, is there much point?  Perhaps it is better to medicate, take the edge off, dull the ‘reality’ to a manageable blur and become a malleable being, easily directed by others to achieve their own, unknown ends?

Perhaps… yes, perhaps it is better to be in a drug-induced obedience, happy to just float along, without purpose or direction.  Perhaps that is what has led me to where I am?

So, the problems are not resolved – can they be?  Regardless, it is best to bury them deep, reconstruct the big black box, and put on the mask of conformity and existence.  We won’t speak of these matters again… No, it’s best not to.  To say anything to anyone will lead to platitudes and clichés – “you’ll be right, mate,” “tomorrow’s another day,” “plenty more fish in the sea,” “don’t be silly,” “just get on with it.”

The others are coming.  It’s time for tea.  Buck up, stiff upper lip, and all that jazz.  No one wants to be around a sour puss with a long face.  

I’d best get going then, sorry to be a pain and pour all my craziness onto you.  Forget I said anything, it’s all pretty stupid anyway, right.  Very sorry, but I do have to run…

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Unfinished Anxiety

The darkness descends

The darkness descends

This is another unfinished piece I discovered in an abandoned notebook…

The dark sense of impending doom enveloped Jacinta like a thick, woollen cloak, drawn tight against the chilling wind of a mid-winter’s night.  Its weight was familiar, and Jacinta no longer panicked when the darkness descended.  She was exhausted from trying to fight it.

Jacinta had seen its approach from a distance.  She had recognised the subtle signs oppression was imminent.  There was nothing she could do to prevent its descent.  Her only hope was to cocoon her sanity from the onslaught and keep breathing.

Her stomach rolled and tumbled like closthes in a dryer, and Jacinta’s hands were clammy with sweat.  She wasn’t sure what horrors were headed her way, but every fibre of her being knew something more than bad was going to happen.  Jacinta’s heart thudded a drum roll, waiting for the winning terror to be revealed.  her breath was short and shallow with anticipation….

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