Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Virtue Ethics and Virtue Theory: Strengths and Weaknesses


After centuries of debate, many modern philosophers have concluded that both virtue ethics (character) and virtue theory (action) are inadequate on their own merits.  They must compromise and support one another. 
Virtue Ethics and Virtue Theory: Strengths and Weaknesses
       While utilitarians emphasize the consequences of actions that promote the most good, and deontologists like Kant point to rules and duties, virtue ethicists hold up moral character as the highest form of normative ethics (Hursthouse & Pettigrove, 2016).
       Traditionally, virtue ethics encompass the ideas of “virtues and vices, motives and moral character, moral education, moral wisdom or discernment, friendship and family relationships, a deep concept of happiness, the role of the emotions in our moral life and the fundamentally important questions of what sorts of persons we should be and how we should live” (Hursthouse & Pettigrove, 2016).  Virtue ethics are teleological in nature because they deal with human reason and the purpose of human existence (Frost, 1989).  They address “the goal of life: living well and achieving excellence” (Pojman & Fieser, 2017).
       It’s important to separate “virtue ethics” from “virtue theory.”  Virtue ethics is an approach to ethics apart from utilitarianism and deontology.  Virtue theory addresses virtue as it is found in ethical systems (Hursthouse & Pettigrove, 2016).
       Virtue theory is considered “action-based theory” (Pojman & Fieser, 2017) and calls on people to act virtuously by following certain rules.  People are judged by their actions and not whether they possess virtuous character traits.  Virtue theory is strong on action-guiding rules but weak on producing people with solid moral characters.
       Virtue ethics, on the other hand, are founded on ancient Greek philosophy and include the concepts of arĂȘte (excellence), phronesis (practical wisdom), and eudaimonia (happiness, flourishing) (Hursthouse & Pettigrove, 2016).  Aristotle believed that humans are the “highest
creation,” endowed with the “spark of the divine” (Frost, 1989).  For him, the goal of life for humans is to achieve the highest self-realization (Frost, 1989).  He saw God as “pure intelligence . . . [and the] unifying principle of the universe” (Frost, 1989).  God is the reason that all things, including humans, strive for realization (Frost, 1989).  But humans “use reason in pursuit of the good life” (Pojman & Fieser, 2017).  This is what separates humans from animals.   
       A virtue is an inherent character trait that makes somebody “a certain sort of person” (Hursthouse & Pettigrove, 2016).  The virtuous person consistently behaves in a way that reflects his or her deepest-held convictions.  Virtuous does not mean perfect — even the most virtuous people have flaws.  But truly virtuous people, according to Aristotle, “do what they should without a struggle against contrary desires.  The continent have to control a desire or temptation to do otherwise” (Hursthouse & Pettigrove, 2016).  A virtuous person “does these things because he desires to do them from the depths of his own being” (Frost, 1989).  A virtuous person will not be tempted to do wrong.  He will do good because he is good (Pojman & Fieser, 2017).  The more “good” people who live in society, the more society benefits.
       Phronesis is moral or practical wisdom (Hursthouse & Pettigrove, 2016).  Without wisdom to back up virtue, even the most virtuous people can use their virtue in the wrong way.  And they are held accountable when their actions go wrong.  Virtuous people have a firm understanding of situational ethics and apply their virtues accordingly (Hursthouse & Pettigrove, 2016).  But wisdom comes with experience, and moral virtues must be lived in order to be fully realized (Pojman & Fieser, 2017).  Some people will never develop wisdom, no matter how long they live.  Wisdom, common sense, and critical thinking skills cannot always be learned.
       Aristotle placed emphasis on the Golden Mean — or moderation — which he considered the “rational attitude” (Frost, 1989).  Moderation leads to balance.  Living a moderate life develops “noble, just, honest, considerate” (Frost 1989) character traits.  But Aristotle also believed in free will.  People are “free to debase [themselves] or strive for self-realization” (Frost, 1989).  Therefore, it is not guaranteed that people will choose to become virtuous people or follow action-guiding rules.
       According to Aristotle, “man is by nature a social animal” (Frost, 1989).  He can only flourish and achieve self-realization within the context of the state.  In fact, “the goal of the state . . . is to produce good citizens” and “to the extent that the state does not enable the individual to live a virtuous and happy life, it is evil” (Frost 1989).  If a person is unlucky enough to live in a country where human rights are not respected, it is unlikely that he will have the opportunity to achieve self-realization and live a happy life.
       Although people can be born with good or bad character traits, Aristotle believed that “the aim of education should be to make people virtuous” (Frost, 1989).  But what traits make people virtuous? According to Pojman & Fieser, moral virtues include “honesty, benevolence, nonmalevolence, fairness, kindness, conscientiousness, gratitude.”  But this leads to a conundrum.  People with virtuous character traits must still be guided by action-guiding principles.   Otherwise, they have no parameters by which to act (Pojman & Fieser, 2017).  As philosopher William Frankena said, “Traits without principles are blind, but principles without traits are impotent” (Pojman & Fieser, 2017).
       Action-guiding principles, as found in virtue theory, are uninspiring and do not produce people with inherent moral characters.  Virtue ethics, on the other hand, strive to produce people with strong moral characters but fail to provide guidelines to put those traits into action.  Virtue theory and virtue ethics must compromise and support one another in order to provide a complete moral system.
Frost, S.E. (1989). Basic teachings of the great philosophers. New York, NY: Anchor Books
Hursthouse, R., & Pettigrove, G. (2003). Virtue ethics. In E.N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford
       encyclopedia of philosophy (winter 2016 ed.). Retrieved from
Pojman, L.P., & Fieser, J. (2017). Ethics: Discovering right and wrong. Boston, MA:
       Cengage Learning
Dawn Pisturino
March 2017
Mohave Community College
Kingman, Arizona
Copyright 2017 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Nominated March of Dimes 2017 Nurse of the Year


I was honored that one of my co-workers recently nominated me for the March of Dimes 2017 Nurse of the Year award. Thank you, Jessica!

Dawn Pisturino, RN
March 28, 2017

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Utilitarianism and Kantianism: A Comparison


Utilitarianism is a teleological ethical theory that determines good and bad actions based on the consequences. Kantianism is a deontological ethical theory that emphasizes the intrinsic value of the acts themselves, the intention behind the acts, or the rules which govern the acts. Both theories seek to maximize good and minimize suffering for the human race.

Utilitarianism and Kantianism: A Comparison


       Classical utilitarianism originated with Jeremy Bentham in the 18th century.  He broke down utilitarianism into two basic principles: the consequentialist principle and the utility principle.
       According to the consequentialist principle, “the rightness or wrongness of an act is determined by the goodness or badness of the results” (Pojman & Fieser, 2017).  An act should result in “the greatest good of the greatest number” (Frost, 1989).  He also believed that “good and bad . . . are determined by social factors” (Frost, 1989).  From this perspective, the end justifies the means.
       The utility (hedonist) principle states that “the only thing that is good in itself is some specific type of state” (Pojman & Fieser, 2017).  A state is good if it provides more pleasure than pain.
       Bentham devised a formula, called the hedonic calculus, which assigns hedons — units of happiness — to experiences (Pojman & Fieser, 2017).  The number of hedons determines whether the act is good or bad.
       Bentham is known as an act-utilitarian.  He believed that “an act is right if and only if it results in as much good as any available alternative” (Pojman & Fieser, 2017).
       John Stuart Mill, on the other hand, wanted to distinguish pleasure from sensualism.  He believed that “intellectual, aesthetic, and social enjoyments” (Pojman & Fieser, 2017) were more important for human happiness than lower pleasures such as food, drink, and sex.  Lower pleasures can lead to pain, whereas higher pleasures tend to provide more substantial, long-term benefit. 
       Mill was a rule-utilitarian who believed that “an act is right if and only if it is required by a rule that is itself or member of a set of rules whose acceptance would lead to greater utility for society than any available alternative” (Pojman & Fieser, 2017).
       John Stuart Mill was also a Utopian in the sense that “he dreamed of a society in which the happiness and prosperity of all was certain, and in which all would share the wealth of the group” (Frost, 1989).  But he admitted that humans are complex creatures and “the factors which must be taken into consideration are so numerous that it is impossible for us to predict with any high degree of certainty” (Frost, 1989).
       Humans need action-guiding rules to help them make choices that maximize the good for the greatest number and minimize suffering (Pojman & Fieser, 2017).  At the lowest level are simple commands such as “Don’t Kill.”  On the next level, the commandment can be modified to adapt to a changing situation: “Don’t Kill Unless . . .”
       The remainder rule, as a last resort, says to use best judgment when two moral principles conflict (act utilitarianism) (Pojman & Fieser, 2017).
       Modern philosopher Kai Nielsen is an act-utilitarian who added another dimension by concluding that human responsibilities include what they do and what they fail to do (negative responsibility) (Pojman & Fieser, 2017).


       By contrast, Immanuel Kant believed that “by reason we can form an idea of this world, this universe” (Frost, 1989).  Humans need “an absolutely necessary Being, God, who is the cause of everything” (Frost, 1989) in order to perform good acts.  They must act “as if this kind of a
world existed” (Frost, 1989), whether real or not.  The moral law, for Kant, is derived from reason and shapes human values.  This is called rational intuition (Pojman & Fieser, 2017).
      The phenomenal world, according to Kant, is based on experience (Frost, 1989).  The noumenal world is based on reason (Frost, 1989).  Reason leads to the practical experience.   In developing his overriding  doctrine of the categorical imperative, Kant commanded humans to “always act so that you can will the maxim or determining principle or your action to become universal law [the principle of the law of nature]; act so that you can will that everybody shall follow the principle of your action [the principle of autonomy]” (Frost, 1989).
       Kant believed that the Good Will is the only thing that is intrinsically good (Pojman & Fieser, 2017).  Mental intellect and talents do not qualify because they can be corrupted.  But they are redeemed if accompanied by a Good Will.
       He further believed that humans have a “dominant place in the universe” (Frost, 1989) and should be treated as an end rather than a means.  This is called the principle of ends (Pojman & Fieser, 2017).
       Kant was a rule-intuitionist and continued Samuel Pufendorf’s list of duties that humans must perform: duty to God, duty to oneself, and duty to others (Pojman & Fieser, 2017).  But the most important duty is to fulfill “moral duty solely for its own sake” (Pojman & Fieser, 2017).


       While utilitarians were empiricists who considered the consequences of their actions to determine good and bad, Kant was an absolutist and rationalist who believed that a transcendental world could be detected through reason and intuition.  He believed that a higher power was necessary in order for humans to understand the moral laws that would guide their actions.  An inherent Good Will, accompanied by mental acuity and talents, was also necessary to ensure good acts that would influence universal law.


Frost, S.E. (1989). Basic teachings of the great philosophers. New York, NY: Anchor Books

Pojman, L.P., & Fieser, J. (2017). Ethics: Discovering right and wrong. Boston, MA: Cengage

Dawn Pisturino
Ethics 151
Mohave Community College
Kingman, Arizona
March 8, 2017
Copyright 2017 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.











Monday, March 6, 2017

Ethical Egoism: Strengths and Weaknesses

Ethical Egoism: Strengths and Weaknesses
Dawn Pisturino
Mohave Community College
Ethical egoism urges people to do the things which best serve their own self-interest.  They should strive to become the best they can possibly be.  In order for this moral principle to hold up, however, it must meet certain criteria.
Ethical Egoism: Strengths and Weaknesses
       Before the principle of ethical egoism can be legitimately defined as a moral code, it must contain certain characteristics.
       Tibor R. Machan (1979) describes ethical egoism as “morality that is tied to benefiting the agent.”  As a moral code, it guides people to be the best they can be and to pursue the best possible goals (Machan, 1979).  It sets a standard of excellence for ambitious people.  In corporate America, the prescriptive statement would be, “Do Your Best!”  In the college setting, the commandment would be, “Follow Your Dreams!”  On the surface, this sounds reasonable enough.  We want our best and brightest to succeed.  But not everybody is ambitious or able to follow this moral code.  Many people are lazy and want to work just hard enough to get by.  Others do not have the necessary talents or mental capacity or stamina.  Ayn Rand believed that a person’s own life is the ethical purpose for his life (Machan, 1979).  If this is true, nobody is obligated to pursue goals that are self-enhancing and ambitious.  People have the right to be lazy and to live a mediocre life.  Therefore, ethical egoism does not guarantee any benefit to society.  It can serve as a prescription for success for some people, but it cannot command people to strive for success.
       According to Pojman and Fieser (2017), moral principles “must apply to all people who are in a relevantly similar situation.”  But many egoists, like Jesse Kalin, believe that ethical egoism is a “personal ethical doctrine” that does not have to apply to all people (Machan, 1979).  This
frees people from conformity, but it opens the door to contradictions because people will not behave consistently (Machan, 1979).  In fact, James Rachels condemns ethical egoism as a threat to society because it undermines social cohesion (Machan, 1979).  Ethical egoism satisfies the characteristic of universalizability in the sense that every person has the right to make his own choices and pursue his own goals.  But it fails in providing a consistent guiding action for individuals to engage in positive conduct that promotes the welfare of society.
       Can ethical egoism as a moral principle override other principles?  J.A. Brunton believes that “the egoistic part in all of us will always find rules, reason, and justification” for our actions (Machan, 1979).  All moral codes contain biases, no matter how noble, because they reflect the individuality of human beings.  Ethical egoism is biased towards the self (Machan, 1979).  The egoist may be able to override his sense of self long enough to help another human being, but only if it best serves his own self-interest (Machan, 1979).  At the very least, he would act “with prudence” to protect his own reputation and social standing (Machan, 1979).  If his own self-preservation is more important to him than his “social commitments,” however, he will not care about engaging in altruistic behavior (Machan, 1979).
       Moral principles that have authority to consistently guide people are widely known and publicized.  Most people have heard the commandment, “Thou Shall Not Kill.”  It has become part of the culture.  Most corporations try to project a benevolent and altruistic image in order to earn the public’s business and respect, whether or not they engage in that kind of behavior.  Corporations notoriously try to save money by cutting corners and reducing jobs in order to maximize profits.  Corporate executives view this as goal-directed actions that provide value to the corporation (the ethical egoist point of view).  If the corporation is producing unsafe products and working conditions as a result of its actions, however, it cannot publicize the results of these actions because the public will object.  Therefore, the ethical egoist point of view only works when corporate executives choose to engage in positive behavior that does not cause harm to others.  Eric Mack confirms this when he states, “the morally good, with respect to each human being, is the successful performance, and the results of the successful performance, of those actions that sustain [living things]” (Machan, 1979).
       Thomas Hobbes stated that it is in the best self-interest of people to obey the rules because “people are inherently selfish” (Pojman & Fieser, 2017).  Without an overriding moral code, society would fall into chaos.  But the moral code must be universal and agreed on by society.  And the threat of punishment or exclusion should be enough to prevent people from breaking the rules.
      David Gauthier describes the ethical egoist as “a person who on every occasion and in everrespect acts to bring about as much as possible of what he values” (Machan, 1979).  By this reasoning, anything can be considered valuable by individuals.  If a drug addict values the effects of heroin, he will devote his time to finding and using heroin.  If a business owner values profit, he will devote his time to making money.  The drug addict is satisfying his own needs.  But if he is stealing in order to support his habit, he is not only acting in his own self-interest but behaving selfishly and harming others.  The business owner may try to deal with his customers honestly, but if he is feeling stressed about money, he may deliberately cheat someone in a moment of need.  He is fulfilling his own self-interest but behaving selfishly by harming the customer.
       In both cases, a standard of excellence was not pursued or achieved, so ethical egoism failed to provide practical and positive effects for society.
       Ethical egoism only works as a legitimate moral code if the agent performs the right action to achieve the right result with the right intention from the beginning (Pojman & Fieser, 2017). 
Machan, T. (1979). Recent work in ethical egoism. American Philosophical Quarterly, 16(1),
       1-15. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20009734
Pojman, L.P., & Fieser, J. (2017). Ethics: Discovering right and wrong. Boston, MA:
       Cengage Learning
Dawn Pisturino
February 27, 2017
Ethics 151
Mohave Community College
Kingman, Arizona
Copyright 2017 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Attachment Disorder and Crime



Attachment disorders arise when children experience prolonged and persistent abuse and neglect.  They are unable to form attachments and respond to the world with anger, defiance, and aggression.  They resist authority figures and defy social rules.  Without early intervention, these children are at high risk for delinquency, criminality, and the commission of violent crimes.
Attachment Disorder and Crime

       Criminologists recognize that antisocial behaviors, which are more common in males, can lead to an increase in criminality and violent crime (Siegel, 2012).  Much of their research has been based on John Bowlby’s attachment theory.

       Psychoanalyst John Bowlby studied Lorenz’s research on imprinting.  He concluded that “children come into the world biologically pre-programmed to form attachments with others, because this will help them to survive” (McLeod, 2007).  Failure to make secure attachments can lead to “affectionless psychopathy” later in life (McLeod, 2007).

       “Attachment is an enduring affective bond characterized by a tendency to seek and maintain proximity to a specific person, particularly when under stress” (Levy, 2000).  This bond is created between mother and child during the nine months of pregnancy and the first two years of life (Levy, 2000).  The mother-child bond is unique and forms through social releasers — behaviors that ensure a reciprocal response between mother and child (McLeod, 2007).  Smiling, eye contact, holding, rocking, touching, and feeding are cues which create a “mutual regulatory system” (Levy, 2000).

       When the mother-child bond fails to develop, infants can suffer from severe colic and feeding difficulties, fail to gain weight and reach important developmental milestones, remain detached and unresponsive, refuse to be comforted, and respond too readily to strangers (Attachment Disorders, 2014).

       Children need a “secure base” to learn trust and reciprocity, qualities which lay the foundation for all future relationships (Levy, 2000).  They must be able to explore their environment without fear and anxiety so they can attain full cognitive and social development (Levy, 2000).  A strong, secure attachment between mother (or other primary caregiver) and child helps the child to learn self-regulation (self-management of impulses and emotions) (Levy, 2000).  The child has the opportunity to form a strong self-identity, competence, and self-worth and to create balance between dependence on the mother and his own autonomy (Levy, 2000).  A secure base allows the child to learn empathy and compassion and to develop a conscience (Levy, 2000). A well-established core belief system helps the child to evaluate himself, his caregiver, and the world around him (Levy, 2000).  He learns resourcefulness and the resilience to cope with stress and adverse events (Levy, 2000).

       Even adopted infants can “develop healthy attachment relationships” in the first year of life if raised in a safe and secure environment by a caregiver who is consistently responsive to their needs (Reebye, 2007).  Children with Down Syndrome tend to develop attachments later, during the 12-24 month period (Reebye, 2007).

       Secure attachment allows children to develop positive patterns of cognition, behavior, and interaction which help them to survive successfully within the family and society at large (Levy, 2000).  They internalize altruism, empathy, compassion, kindness, and morality, qualities which lead to proper social behavior and social cohesion.  They learn to view themselves, the caregiver, life, and the world as essentially good, safe, and worthwhile.

       Children who do not develop secure attachments experience just the opposite.  They learn to view themselves, the caregiver, life, and the world as hostile, dangerous, and worthless (Levy, 2000).  By age four, these children exhibit symptoms of chronic aggression — “rage, bullying, defiance, and controlling interactions with others” (Levy, 2000).  These are the children who overwhelm the child welfare and juvenile justice systems and carry diagnoses of conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and antisocial personality disorder.  Children with severe attachment disorder typically engage in cruelty to animals, bed-wetting, fire-setting, pathological lying, and self-gratification at the expense of others.  They are predatory and vindictive, controlling and manipulative.  They lack empathy, remorse, and a moral conscience.  They are unable to form close relationships with others because they never experienced it themselves.

       Adults with these traits are often labeled psychopaths and may become serial killers and mass murderers (Levy, 2000).  The motivations for their crimes are manipulation, dominance, and control.  They feel powerless and inferior, committing horrific crimes against others as a way to release their frustrations and hostilities (Levy, 2000).

       But why do some children fail to develop a secure attachment to their mother or other primary caregiver?  Researchers have determined several common factors — “abuse and neglect, single-parent homes, stressed caregivers, parents with criminal records” (Levy, 2000).  Other factors include parental mental illness, substance abuse, and a history of maltreatment.

       Within the family, persistent conflict and violence lead to childhood anxiety, fear, and insecurity.  Children learn that violence is an acceptable way of dealing with life (Levy, 2000).

       Poverty, living in an unstable community rife with violence, access to weapons, and graphic depictions of violence on TV and in the movies desensitizes children.  They learn to “express feelings, solve problems, boost self-image, and attain power” through aggression and violence (Levy, 2000). 
       Prenatal drug and alcohol abuse, maternal stress,  birth complications, prematurity, nutritional deprivation, and genetics can lead to inherited personality traits and brain damage that interfere with learning, attention spans, and impulse control.  Compound this with a firmly-established attachment disorder, and a child is likely to be difficult to control, impulsive, hyperactive, defiant, aggressive, indifferent to learning, and angry (Levy, 2000).

       Children who are maltreated are often found in foster care, kinship care, adoptive care, and orphanages (Chaffin, 2006).  This includes children adopted from other countries.  They grow up in unstable environments, without the consistent affection and nurturing required to develop secure attachments (Chaffin, 2006).  They may grow up with suppressed anger that causes them to “seek control, resist authority, engage in power struggles and antisocial behavior” (Chaffin, 2006).  They become self-centered, resist close attachments, and eventually fall into delinquency and criminality (Chaffin, 2006).

       Teenagers still need a “secure base” as they wrestle with independence versus security (Mathew, 1995).  If a teenager has developed a secure attachment to his mother or other primary caregiver, he will weather the storms of adolescence with more resilience and adaptive abilities to cope with stress and change.  A strong, loving family environment teaches teenagers social competence and self-confidence.

       Adolescents who grow up in unstable, inconsistent homes torn apart by conflict and violence develop “psychopathology resulting from the inability to function competently in social situations” (Mathew, 1995).  “Delinquency, addiction, and depression” grow out of “inadequate problem-solving” (Mathew, 1995).  The teenager suffering from attachment disorder is incapable
of interpreting and responding to social cues in appropriate ways (Mathew, 1995).  They view the world as a hostile place, attribute hostile intentions to other people, and respond aggressively.

       Decades of research have found clear links between early childhood abuse and neglect, attachment disorder, and delinquency and violence later in life.  It is not surprising, then, that children under age twelve have committed some of the cruelest crimes or that adolescent males are three times more likely to commit violent crimes than their female counterparts (Levy, 2000).



       Research was conducted online through EBSCO and Google Scholar using the keywords “attachment disorder,” “John Bowlby,” and “attachment disorder and crime.”


       Attachment theory has been around for a long time.  It has been studied and expanded on by others.  A lot of research is available concerning attachment theory, maternal deprivation hypothesis, reactive attachment disorder (RAD), disinhibited social engagement disorder (DSED), secure base distortion, rage theory, disordered attachment, disorganized attachment, disoriented attachment, and insecure attachment.  These are all variations on the same theme — early childhood abuse and neglect lead ultimately to emotional detachment, dysfunction, anger, defiance, and aggression.


       Traditional psychotherapeutic tools are ineffective on children suffering from attachment disorder because these children are unable to trust others and form the therapeutic bond
necessary to engage in treatment (Levy, 2000).  Without early intervention, however, these children are at high risk for risky behaviors, criminality, and incarceration.

       Several treatment modalities have been developed to help children overcome their attachment difficulties.  Most focus on learning how to trust and feel secure.  One of the more controversial, Holding Nurturing Process (HNP), involves forcibly holding the child and maintaining eye contact, which is supposed to promote secure attachment and self-regulation (Chaffin, 2006).  HNP has been associated with the death of several children, however, and criminal charges have been filed against some attachment therapists and parents (Chaffin, 2006).

       The most effective attachment therapies allow the child to gradually build up trust with a committed therapist who then works with the child to re-program patterns of negative thinking and behaving (Levy, 2000).  Therapy is based on the individual needs of the child and involves family, school, and community.  The child learns positive coping skills that help him to function successfully within the family and society.

       Parents and other primary caregivers can undergo Corrective Attachment Therapy in order to enhance their parenting skills and learn specific tools for dealing with a difficult child (Levy, 2000).  Parent and child must go through therapy simultaneously so that they both learn mutual caring and respect; open up to feelings of affection; set up limits, rules, and boundaries; share empathy and compassion; and learn how to be in tune with one another (Levy, 2000).

       If high risk families can be identified early in the process, families can be enrolled in special programs and children can receive the treatment they need to overcome the damage already done.   

Attachment disorders. (2014, January). American Academy of Child & Adolescent

       Psychiatry. Retrieved from http://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_youth/Facts_


Chaffin, M., Hanson, R., Saunders, B., Nichols, T., Barnett, D., Zeanah, C., Berliner, L.,

       . . . Miller-Perrin, C. (2006). Report of the apsac task force on attachment therapy, reactive

       attachment disorder, and attachment problems. Child Maltreatment, 11(1), 76-89. doi:


Levy, Terry M. & Orlans, M. (2000). Attachment disorder as an antecedent to violence and

       antisocial patterns in children. In Levy, Terry M., Editor, Handbook of attachment inter-

       ventions (pp. 1-26). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Mathew, S., Rutemiller, L., Sheldon-Keller, A., Sheras, P., Canterbury, R. (1995). Attachment  

       and social problem solving in juvenile delinquents (Report No. 143). Washington, D.C.:

       Educational Resources Information Center.

McLeod, S. (2007). Bowlby’s attachment theory. Simply Psychology. Retrieved from

Reebye, P. & Kope, T. (2007). Attachment disorders. BC Medical Journal, 49(4), 189-193.

Siegel, Larry J. (2012). Criminology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
(The references did not all format correctly.)
Dawn Pisturino
Mohave Community College
Criminology 225
November 29, 2016
Copyright 2016-2017 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.




Thursday, November 3, 2016

Rape Prevention in Arizona

Rape Prevention in Arizona
by Dawn Pisturino


Social services in Arizona are concentrated mainly in the Phoenix area.  Outlying areas may or may not have sufficient services.  In Mohave County, for example, domestic and sexual violence services are geared largely toward families and domestic violence.  Few services exist specific to rape prevention.  In fact, the nearest actual rape center is located in Flagstaff (Coconino County), which is two hours away.  Arizona does have a comprehensive Sexual Violence Prevention & Education Program aimed at prevention of sexual and domestic violence, but most state-funded organizations are located in southern Arizona.  National organizations like RAINN provide general guidelines and state-by-state information.

Rape Prevention in Arizona

       The Sexual Violence Prevention & Education Program in Arizona originated at the state level, conforms to CDC guidelines, and depends on funding from the CDC and other sources.
       In 2004, the Governor’s Office for Children, Youth, and Families formulated a state plan that would “increase capacity . . . to provide services, promote prevention, conduct trainings, and create public awareness activities statewide” in the area of sexual assault.  The primary goal was to “increase victim access to comprehensive crisis services” (Governor’s Office for Children, Youth, and Families, 2004).
       A statewide eight year plan was implemented through the Arizona Department of Health Services in 2010 that would “stop first time perpetration” through standardized educational curriculum in the schools, colleges, and universities; faith-based organizations; widespread media campaigns; and businesses that serve alcohol.  The mission was to achieve “the vision of a culture that supports healthy, respectful relationships through primary prevention efforts and zero tolerance of sexual violence in Arizona communities” (Arizona Department of Health Services, 2010).
       Sexual assault is a public health threat that requires preventative education and counseling before an assault occurs; interventions immediately after an incident; and long-term follow-up care, if necessary, with therapy and empowerment tools (University of Arizona, 2012).  Programs are now teaching bystander intervention skills to people who want to serve as role models and intervene when they witness a potential or actual sexual assault occurring.  The University of Arizona routinely screens students for past and recent sexual assaults and abuse so they can receive the therapy they need.  Male students learn how to evaluate their own attitudes and beliefs about male dominance and entitlement in order to gain new respect for their partners and develop more effective communication skills (University of Arizona, 2012).
       The Sexual Violence Prevention & Education Program implemented in 2012 on the campus of the University of Arizona in Tucson is also available to other campuses, organizations, and businesses through their community outreach program.  According to their research, alcohol is implicated in 50-70% of all sexual assaults.  Drug and alcohol screenings are now done on campus to screen students for substance use problems.  Students receive information about consent and the ability/inability to consent for sexual activity while intoxicated.  Freshmen are required to take an online course in sexual assault (University of Arizona, 2012).
       Research conducted at the University of Arizona supports new laws and public policies.  Researchers have found that community-based programs are most effective.  Their public awareness programs have been so effective, Governor Douglas Ducey proclaimed April 2016 Sexual Assault Awareness Month (Governor’s Office, 2016).
       According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (2016), 1 in 5 women and 1 in 15 men experience rape or attempted rape.  By the age of eighteen, 40% of women have suffered some sort of sexual abuse or assault.  The long-term physical and psychological trauma can be devastating.  Family Advocacy Centers have been established in some areas of Arizona to provide post-sexual assault services, including forensic evidence collection, expert witness testimony, and legal representation.  Arizona state law allows victims to receive a forensic examination by a trained examiner within 120 hours (5 days), whether or not they plan to report the incident to police (Governor’s Office for Children, Youth, and Families, 2004).  Forensic biological evidence will be kept indefinitely in unsolved felony sexual offense cases (Arizona Revised Statute 13-4221).  There are no statutes of limitations in felony sexual offense cases (Arizona Revised Statute 13-107).  The definition of rape has been expanded in order to increase the number of convictions.  Sexual assault is a class 2 felony, but if a date rape drug was used, the sentence will be increased by three years (Arizona Revised Statutes 13-1406).  The minimum sentence for a first conviction under ARS 13-1406 is 5.25 years, but a life sentence may be imposed if intentional serious physical harm was inflicted.
       Cultural competence remains an important issue when dealing with victims of sexual assault since the United States has such a diverse population “with differing ideas about domestic violence and sexual assault” (Warrier, 2005).  Trained interpreters and bilingual educational materials must be available.  Professionals must be able to understand victims’ experiences of violence within the context of their own culture.  This is particularly crucial among the Native American population.
       Kathryn Patricelli, MA (2005), educates women on what to do after an assault or rape.  First off, they should not bathe or cleanse themselves.  Secondly, they should call the police and report what happened. Third, women should go the emergency room and ask to be examined.  A forensic examination should be performed.  If a date rape drug was used, they should have a urine toxicology screen done.  Fourth, they should go stay in a safe place or have someone stay with them.  Fifth, victims should get help from a counselor to ease the shock, pain, and guilt.  If symptoms do not ease in a reasonable amount of time, the victim should get ongoing therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder.


       Research was conducted online through EBSCO and Google Scholar using the keywords “rape prevention,” “rape prevention in Mohave County,” and “rape prevention in Arizona.”  Other research was done in person and by telephone.


       The best online results were found in Arizona government websites and publications.  Kingman Aid to Abused People/Sarah’s House did not answer their door or telephone.  Their primary focus is on family abuse and domestic violence.  Calling the Mohave Victim Witness Program phone number connected me to a pager.  There was no local rape prevention literature available at the Mohave County Library in Kingman; their resource list was out-of-date; and the librarian could only find two young adult books in the system related to teen dating safety and sexual harassment.


       Local programs funded by the state of Arizona must provide “education on sexual harassment, definitions of rape, teen dating violence, assertive communication, and strategies to increase reporting and awareness of sexual violence” (Arizona Department of Health Services, 2016).  Some organizations also explain consent and Arizona law.
       Most programs and organizations in Mohave County provide post-incident crisis intervention, shelter, and hotlines for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.  Mohave Community College has policies dealing with campus safety and sexual harassment and assault.  Mohave Mental Health and Southwest Behavioral provide long-term therapy services for depression, anxiety, and PTSD.  Local hospitals have trained forensic examiners, social workers, and counselors available for immediate care after a sexual assault.  The Mohave County Health Department performs confidential testing for STDs/HIV.
       Charles P. Nemeth (2012) defines rape as sexual intercourse with another person through the use of force, without consent, and with intent.  His guidelines for dealing with an attack include trying to dissuade the attacker from completing the act; pretending to have an STD or AIDS; acting insane; yelling; struggling and fighting back; using self-defense skills; using pepper spray or mace; avoiding resistance in order to survive (Nemeth, 2012).
       The Governor’s Office for Children, Youth, and Families (2004) describes rape “as a crime of power and control . . . motivated by aggression and hatred, not sex.”  The state of Arizona has implemented a statewide plan to address the problem through standardized educational programs, increased availability of services to victims, and expanded tools for prosecutors and police to increase the number of convictions for sexual assault.  But most comprehensive services are concentrated in the Phoenix/Tucson metropolitan areas.  More needs to be done for less populated counties like Mohave County.

Arizona Department of Health Services. (2016). Sexual violence prevention and education

       program. Retrieved from http://www.azrapeprevention.org.

Arizona Department of Health Services, The Bureau of Women’s and Children’s Health.
       (2010). Arizona sexual violence primary prevention and education eight year program plan.

       Phoenix, AZ: State of Arizona.

Arizona Legislature. (2016). Arizona revised statutes. Retrieved from http://www.azleg.gov.

Centers for Disease Control, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of

       Violence Prevention. (2016). Stop SV: A technical package to prevent sexual violence.

       Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control.

Governor’s Office. (2016). State of arizona proclamation. Phoenix, AZ: State of Arizona.

Governor’s Office for Children, Youth, and Families, Division for Women. (2004). The state

       plan on domestic & sexual violence: A guide for safety & injustice in arizona. Phoenix,

       AZ: State of Arizona.

Nemeth, C.P. (2012). Criminal law. Boca Raton, FL: Taylor & Francis.

Patricelli, K., MA. (2005, December 15). Abuse – If you have been assaulted or raped.
       Retrieved from http://www.mentalhelp.net.

RAINN. (2016). State-by-state definitions. Retrieved from http://rainn.org.

University of Arizona, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. (2012). Sexual

       violence prevention & education program orientation manual & annual summary. Tucson,

       AZ: University of Arizona.
Warrier, S. (2005). Culture handbook. San Francisco, CA: Family Violence Prevention Fund.       

Dawn Pisturino
Administration of Justice 109, Mohave Community College,
Kingman, Arizona
Copyright 2016 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.                                                  
(The references would not format properly.)