DEAR AMY: I raised my son as a single parent. He was a very bright student studying abroad when he started practicing voyeurism. He graduated to taking photos of unsuspecting women in compromising situations. He was arrested for this four times. I got him the best lawyer I could in hopes that he'd have a chance at living a promising life. The attorney's fees were enormous (and I am not rich). While awaiting trial, he was arrested again. After receiving a 5-year prison sentence, I attempted once again to help him, by allowing him to stay in my home. It has not been easy. He is rude, disrespectful, and does not contribute to the household. He has made no effort to reimburse me the over $10,000 I spent in legal fees. Sounds bad, right? It gets worse. I recently upgraded the wireless network in my home. The system comes with security software. My son boldly asked if I was blocking porn! Call me naive, but I decided to try to trust him. I clicked on one of the sites the software had blocked, and ... he is right back into the same stuff that got him locked up. He now subscribes to a secure cloud server that allows you to upload and share pictures. I just discovered this site this morning. As a condition of his parole, he is required to attend group counseling for sex offenders. (He barely escaped having to register as one.) NONE of this appears to affect this behavior. Somehow, against all odds, he was able to land a job that pays well. I am at the end of my rope. I just want him to go away. I realize I cannot help him but feel that abandoning him completely would kick him right over the edge.
DEAR NO TRUST(FUND): You need legal advice, and quickly (I am not a lawyer). No, you should not trust your son. Yes, he needs to be out of your house.
From your description, I infer that you believe your son is again trafficking in illegal "video voyeurism" — the same offense that landed him in prison — and that he is consuming and also perhaps sharing this illegal material from your home.
Now that you know about this, and because your son's behavior puts you and others at risk (including the employees at his workplace), you are ethically bound to act on your knowledge, and report him.
If you are correct that he is reoffending, you should notify his parole officer. You might also choose to contact the lawyer who dealt with his case previously and tell him that you believe your son is reoffending — and that now you need legal advice for yourself — on how to protect yourself from your son’s actions. Your son obviously needs much more intensive treatment than he is receiving, but — above his needs — the public should be protected from him. You can continue to try to advocate for him, but you should assume that being in your home is actually enabling him to reoffend.
DEAR AMY: I am currently more-or-less housebound due to COVID-19 restrictions in our community. I hate to complain, but every day I look out my window and see kids riding their bikes, walking closely together, sometimes playing together. I'm sorry, but I want to scream at them that they are going to spread this virus and potentially kill someone! Do you think it would be OK for me to — basically — yell at them about this?
DEAR UPSET: This is an extremely stressful time for everyone. You are feeling trapped — you are trapped — and you are watching the world go by. You also have a lot of time on your hands.
By all means, you could yell at these children — and, who knows, maybe it would make a difference to them and to you. But I observe that one aspect of our national confinement is the temptation to police and scold others. (I would resist.)
These children could be siblings (and thus, in a family group).You must assume that they have parents who are — or should be — in charge of them.
DEAR AMY: I really liked your essay where you described the tiny "silver linings" you believe may be revealed from this pandemic. I want to stay optimistic, and so I will continue to look for them myself.
DEAR MAKING IT: A lot of us are confronted with some overwhelming challenges. Little, light, and lovely moments can be sustaining.