Person-first language takes hold in CO
By Colette Bordelon . . . A board created by Colorado’s state legislature, which develops standards for the treatment and supervision of convicted sex offenders, is changing the language surrounding the term “sex offender.”
The Sex Offender Management Board (SOMB) was created in 1992 and works with around 500 treatment providers within the state, which serve approximately 2,000-3,000 sex offenders.
The Program Manager of the SOMB, Chris Lobanov-Rostovsky, said the board has previously looked at person-first language and making a transition from the term “sex offender” to something like “adults who have committed sexual offenses.” He said their standards already include person-first language in a number of the sections. The board asked if that should be expanded to all sections, and assigned the topic to a subcommittee. “Trying to be sensitive in using person-first language on both sides. Not just on those who commit sexual offenses, but those who are victimized,” said Lobanov-Rostovsky.
The subcommittee made a recommendation for a new guiding principle that described the importance of using person-first language with the sex offender population. Lobanov-Rostovsky said the board is required to create standards based on research and evidence. “The evidence is pretty conclusive that to use labels for people in a variety of areas, whether that’s in a sexual offense, or a learning disability, or other types of scenarios, that to label somebody actually makes outcomes worse rather than better… If we use person-first language, that actually helps facilitate change and it decreases the likelihood, in this case, that someone will commit another sexual offense,” said Lobanov-Rostovsky.