Friday, 26 August 2011

Pedophilia: A plague that is infesting our society

Child sexual molestation is a form of child abuse in which an adult or older adolescent uses a child for sexual gratification. The abuser can be a male or female but statistics show that child abusers are generally males.

Forms of child sexual abuse include asking or pressuring a child to engage in sexual activities (regardless of the outcome), indecent exposure of the genitals to a child, displaying pornography to a child, actual sexual contact with a child, physical contact with the child's genitals (except in certain non-sexual contexts such as a medical exam), viewing of the child's genitalia for the purpose of sexual gratification, or using a child to produce child pornography.

A Canadian study evaluated the implications of the 2008 increase in age for sexual consent in Canada using a population health survey of Canadian adolescents. In that study, it was determined that almost 40% of teens who first had sex before age 12, reported a first sexual partner who was age 20 years or more. Comparisons included: forced sex, sex under the influence of alcohol or drugs, multiple partners, condom use, effective contraception use, self-reported sexually transmitted infections, and pregnancy involvement.

In 2007, the police in Canada reported that in 82% of sexual assaults, the young victim knew the perpetrator and in 18% of incidents, the accused was a stranger to the victim. What is and has always been alarming, is that 31% of accused were family members. 81% of these victims were girls and 19% were boys. As much as 80% of those sexual assaults occurred in the victim’s homes. Statistics Canada has found that one in three girls and one in six boys have been sexually abused by someone, be it a stranger or a relative or a friend of the family by the time they are eighteen. As many as 95 % of child sexual abuse victims knew their perpetrators before they were molested.

When a prepubescent child is sexually abused by one or more other children or adolescent youths, and no adult is directly involved, it is defined as child-on-child sexual abuse. The definition includes any sexual activity between children that occurs without consent, without equality, or as a result of coercion, whether the offender uses physical force, threats, trickery or emotional manipulation to compel cooperation. When sexual abuse is perpetrated by one sibling upon another, it is known as ‘intersibling abuse’, which is a form of incest

South Africa has some of the highest incidences of child and baby rape in the world. A survey by CIET (Centre for International Education and Training) found 60% of both boys and girls thought it was not violence to force sex upon someone they knew, while around 11% of boys and 4% of girls admitted to forcing someone else to have sex with them.] In a related survey conducted among 1,500 schoolchildren in the Johannesburg township of Soweto, a quarter of all the boys interviewed said that 'jackrolling', a term for gang rape, was fun. More than half the interviewees insisted that when a girl says no to sex she really means yes.

More than 67,000 cases of rape and sexual assaults against children were reported in 2000 in South Africa, compared to 37,500 in 1998. Child welfare groups believe that the number of unreported incidents could be up to 10 times that number. The largest increase in attacks was against children under seven. The prevalence of child sexual abuse in Africa is compounded by a belief that sexual intercourse with a virgin will cure a man of HIV or AIDS. This belief is especially common in South Africa, which has the highest number of HIV-positive citizens in the world. According to official figures, one in eight South Africans infected with the virus. Eastern Cape social worker Edith Kriel notes that ‘child abusers are often relatives of their victims - even their fathers and providers.’ Researcher Suzanne Leclerc-Madlala states that the myth that sex with a virgin is a cure for AIDS is not confined to South Africa: "Fellow AIDS researchers in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Nigeria have told me that the myth also exists in these countries and that it is being blamed for the high rate of sexual abuse against young children.

Child sexual abuse occurs frequently in Western society. The rate of prevalence can be difficult to determine. In the UK it is estimated at about 8% for boys and 12% for girls. The estimates for the United States vary widely. A literature review of 23 studies found rates of 3% to 37% for males and 8% to 71% for females, which produced an average of 17% for boys and 28% for girls, while a statistical analysis based on 16 cross-sectional studies estimated the rate to be 7.2% for males and 14.5% for females. The US Department of Health and Human Services reported 83,600 substantiated reports of sexually abused children in 2005. Including incidents which were not reported would make the total number even much larger. It has been said that one quarter of all adults in the United States were sexually molested when they were children.

The true extent of child sexual abuse in Canada has only come to light in recent decades. The Badgley Report, a cross-Canada study on the abuse of children, revealed horrifying statistics about how prevalent these crimes are in Canada. The report found that one in two girls and one in three boys were the victims of unwanted sexual advances before the age of eighteen; three out of five of these victims were threatened or physically coerced. These numbers are startling. The Badgley report stated, “Child sexual abuse is a largely hidden yet pervasive tragedy that has damaged the lives of tens of thousands of Canadian children and youths. For most of them, their needs remain unexpressed and unmet.”

Historically, testimony by children was given little weight, especially in sexual abuse cases; there was a hesitation to convict on a child’s testimony alone. People believed that child sexual abuse simply did not happen. John Wigmore, whose writings on the law are still accepted today, warned about accepting the complaints of women and children regarding sexual offences. However, the Badgley report showed that sexual abuse of children was prevalent in Canada. The laws were improved in 1988, but there is still progress to be made concerning attitudes toward sexual abuse of children.

Sexual assault and abuse is largely a hidden crime. Therefore, it is difficult to find accurate statistics. There are many reasons why people report sexual victimization, including wanting to protect themselves and others while helping end the silence and shame around this type of abuse. There are however probably far more victims who choose to remain silent.

When I was eleven years old, I was sexually raped by my own father. That didn’t surprise me especially when I later learned that he also raped my mother and that is why I was conceived. Six months later when I was twelve and living with a caregiver (Bates) who was caring for me and three other boys, all four of us were sexually abused by that man night after night. When the Children’s Aid learned of the abuses we were subjected to, it didn’t immediately remove us from that man’s home for a week because it was trying to find us other homes to live in. When I was later taken to a psychiatrist because of the abuse I had been subjected to by that man, the psychiatrist started the interview with; “Tell me about your sexual affair with Mister Bates.” Affair? It wasn’t an affair. It was abuse. I immediately clammed up and never told him or anyone else of the abuse I had suffered from which was brought upon me by my own father and later by the caregiver who was supposed to care for the boys sent to him. It wasn’t until after my mother died in 2003 that I finally opened up and explained what I had been subjected to. I didn’t want my mother to ever know and be saddled with guilt knowing that my father had abused me while she was away visiting her sister and the man she sent me to live with also sexually abused me.

Many victims are reluctant to report abuse because they do not want to be re-victimized which is often how it feels to have to retell the experience over and over again for the police and in court. They often fear they will not be believed, not be supported and be treated differently if people know they have been sexually abused. It is difficult to be able to get victims to tell the authorities as to what they have been subjected to. Alas, many so-called professionals don’t know how to elicit intimate details of sexual abuse from young victims. Years later when I was a group counselor in a correctional facility working with mentally ill prisoners, I was able to get them to face those problems by encouraging them to discuss their problems with others who suffered from the same kinds of abuse so that they would know that they weren’t the only ones who had suffered from child molestation.

In 1991, Roseanne Barr, TV star, publicly accused her parents of sexually and physically abusing her when she was a child. Roseanne said her desire to speak up had been inspired by former Miss America, Marilyn Van Derbur who had gone public with her personal story of having repressed memories of being raped by her father for years.

Roseanne says her father molested her until she left home at age 17.She said, “He constantly put his hands all over me. He forced me to sit on his lap, to cuddle with him, to play with his penis in the bathtub. He did grotesque and disgusting things. He used to chase me with his excrement and try to put it on my head. He’d lie on the floor playing with himself.”

Roseanne, who grew up in Salt Lake City Utah, said she had repressed her memories until something triggered them. It is beyond me as to how she could repress those events in her mind. My memories of what had happened to me were never repressed. It is impossible to erase or hide such memories when you are old enough at the time of the abuse to know that what is happening to you is terribly wrong.

There is much concern in the criminal justice system surrounding the testimony of young people. Many people have serious concerns about allowing children to testify, especially in sexual abuse and assault cases. One of the concerns is that children cannot tell the difference between truth and fantasy and that the abuse may be a fantasy. Another concern is that children will lie to get back at a parent or someone else, or that a parent can coach children to lie, such as in the case of a custody dispute.

Children often find it very difficult to testify in open courtrooms. It is easy to imagine how a child would be very nervous and intimidated in a courtroom atmosphere. The kind of subjects surrounding sexual crimes are often embarrassing for children to talk about in private, let alone to disclose to a courtroom full of strangers.

Children may also be afraid of retaliation from the accused since threats against the child are often a part of their attempts to keep the abuse a secret. A support person or relative can be permitted to sit near the child while they are testifying, sometimes children are permitted to bring in a toy or blanket, and props such as dolls and drawings can be used to assist the child. Depending on when the crime occurred in the child`s developmental process, they may not have had the capacity to understand what was taking place. Children sometimes have trouble with specifics – such as dates – and this can lead to problems in the laying of charges and conviction. The prosecutor can help by asking the child if the abuse happened around Christmas time, or close to some other significant event in the child’s life; however, this may be construed as leading the child witness.

An accused in Canada can be convicted on the evidence of the child’s testimony alone. This does not mean that the court has to convict on that evidence, only that it has the option to do so. The prosecution still must prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Most cases of sexual abuse are committed in a private setting where only the offender and the victim are present. Since many cases are not reported right away, there may be little physical evidence. Cases involving no other evidence than the child’s testimony are difficult to prove and often result in an acquittal. The fact that the child has information of a sexual nature that they should not otherwise have is a good indicator that they are telling the truth. Many judges still comment on the risks of convicting an accused solely on the child’s testimony.

The laws in Canada are not made to stop sexual activity between teenagers but to protect them from sexual abuse and exploitation. For example:

Sexual interference: Section 151 of the Criminal Code says that an adult must not touch any part of a child under the age of 16 “for sexual purposes”.

Invitation to sexual touching
: Section 152 of the Criminal Code says that an adult must not invite a child under the age of 16 to touch him or herself or the adult “for sexual purposes”.

Sexual exploitation: Section 153 of the Criminal Code says that an older person who holds a special position of trust and responsibility (such as a teacher, doctor or babysitter) must not touch any part of a young person under the age of 18 ‘for sexual purposes.’ That person also cannot invite a young person to touch him or her “for sexual purposes”.

Incest: Section 155 of the Criminal Code says that sexual intercourse with a family member is a crime. (Please note that this means a penis inside a vagina only and does not include buggery)

Sexual Assault: Sections 271, 272 & 273 of the Criminal Code is the legal term for 'rape'. In Canada we have three 'degrees' of sexual assault – sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon, threats to a third part or causing bodily harm and aggravated sexual assault. Sexual assault is the intentional application of force, directly or indirectly, to another without their consent for sexual purposes. This section can include behaviors such as unwanted touching, forcing an individual to touch another, assaulting with a weapon, threatening to harm a third party, wounding an individual in the course of a sexual assault or endangering the life of an individual during the course of a sexual assault. Unfortunately, this section is not aimed specifically at children who commit these kinds of sexual assault on other children.

Buggery: Section 160 of the Criminal Code is another word for act of gross indecency. Every one who commits buggery is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.

The following cases illustrate that child sexual assault offenders tend to receive relatively lenient sentences:

1. Bill Bradley – convicted of molesting (including rape and sodomy) 19 children – 6 years.
2. Wray Budreo – convicted of molesting 3 children (30 year history of molesting boys with more than 22 convictions) – 6 years.
3. Cecil Miller – molested 8 children (including rape and sodomy, with one victim still in diapers) – 7 years.
4. Man convicted of sodomizing and molesting his stepdaughter for more than two years – 23 months because the judge said he “spared her virginity.”
5. Man convicted of sexually assaulting two 12 year old girls – $500 fine, 45 days in jail to be served on weekends (he was drunk at the time).
6. Donald and Sandra Rutter – convicted of abusing children from the ages of 8 to 13 – 5 years for Donald and 1 year for Sandra.
7. Dr. Masura Fujibayashi (a dentist) – convicted of 17 counts of sexual/indecent assault against child patients from 1962 to 1988 (estimated over 450 victims) – 4 years.
8. Msgr. John Monegahan (Catholic priest) – 14 counts of indecent assault; 3 counts of sexual assault (victims as young as 6; estimated over 250 victims) – 4 years.
9. A 21-year-old man charged with manufacturing child abusive material (of first graders) – 60 days in jail, 2 years probation, 200 hours community services and does not have to register as a sex offender.
10. Man convicted of repeatedly sexually assaulting two young girls at his wife’s unlicensed day-care – 4 years in prison, granted parole after a year and a half.

It must also be noted that these people can apply for parole after ⅓ of their sentence has been served, and they will be released automatically after two-thirds of their sentence has been served on mandatory supervision. For Bill Bradley, his entire sentence works out to less than 4 months for each victim; if he gets out in 2 years, it will mean less than 2 months for each victim.

Judges do not have the authority to impose mandatory treatment for these offenders because such an imposition was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada. In 2004, however, in partnership with provinces and territories, the Canadian Government created a National Sex Offender Registry in order to provide rapid access to vital information to the police about convicted sex offenders. The public does not have access the registry. Under court order, an offender may be required to register before their release from prison and must register annually and any time they change address or legal name. Offenders may be required to remain registered for 10 years to life, depending on the maximum length of the sentence for the crime. Federal legislation requires provinces to send information about sex offenders to the national database. Currently, there is a push for a stricter monitoring of sex offenders and to update Ontario’s provincial registry to be in line with the federal one.

The federal government of Canada intends to change the law as it relates to issuing pardons for past crimes. The word ‘pardons’ will be changed to ‘record suspensions’ and will not be available to particularly serious offenders or to anyone who commits a sexual offence against a child. This means that anyone wishing to work with children in any capacity will not get a clearance from the police and a clearance is necessary to work with children in Canada. The document they receive from the police will show their record of sex convictions so it follows that once the offender has that document in his hand, he would hardly present it to a potential employer who is looking for a child care worker or children’s camp staff etc.

In the United States, the authorities don’t pussy-foot around when it comes to dealing with convicted child molesters. The Jessica's Law was passed by the Florida legislature in the wake of the February 2005 rape and murder of nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford. That state imposed mandatory 25-year prison terms and life electronic monitoring for child sex offenders and since its passage in May 2005 and as many as 42 states and Congress have implemented such a law or are seriously considering their own very similar laws.

In 2006, South Carolina adopted the death penalty for the second offense of raping a child under age 11. Oklahoma followed suit passing Jessica's Law with a death penalty provision for raping a child under age 14. Texas already had some of the toughest child predator laws on the books with its two-strikes rule that sends child predators to jail for life. But the push for even harsher punishment was coming from the state leadership, rather than from the grass roots, as tightening of criminal laws often does. "Prosecutors will tell you these are the most difficult cases to get a guilty verdict on," Edmonds said. "Prosecutors lose more of these cases than any other."

Sentencing a person to death for child molestation is a very stupid way to deter child molesters. Think about it. If a child molester believes that his victim will report him and he knows that if he is arrested and convicted, he will be given the death penalty, he might as well kill his only witness to his crimes since the penalty is the same. This is why kidnapping finally was and still is no longer a capital offence.

I suppose it is conceivable that a child molester who is 75 years of age will think of a sentence of 25 years in prison being equivalent to a death sentence and may very well kill his victim however, I think it would be very unlikely for a 75-year-old man to be actually molesting children but I suppose anything is possible.

Since as many as 80% of child sexual assaults are committed by family members, there are legitimate concerns that mandatory 25-years-to-life sentence laws, not to mention the death penalty, might dissuade families from reporting child abuse to the authorities. This could result in the victim not getting the psychiatric treatment he or she needs to overcome the shame etc.

Is child molestation an inherited sickness or is it later acquired?

This perplexing question has been on the minds of many people over the years. I think this is a question that even medical scientists have no absolute answers to. Today virtually any unwanted behavior, from shopaholism and kleptomania to sexaholism and pedophilia, may be defined as a disease whose diagnosis and treatment belong in the province of the medical system. There is no doubt that some form of medical treatment is necessary for the treatment of these illnesses.

But should we be looking at the possibility that some or all of these diseases are inherited or are they acquired?

There are three types of researchers that have tried to answer this question. There is the psychological answer, biological answer, and the sociological answer. With all of the studies that have been performed, no one group has come up with an exact reason to why people behave in a deviant manner.

The cause of antisocial personality disorder is really unknown. Like many mental health issues, evidence points to inherited traits. But dysfunctional family life also increases the likelihood of these kinds of personalities. So although such deviance may have a hereditary basis, environmental factors contribute to its development.

Social and home environment definitely contributes to the development of antisocial behavior. Parents of troubled children frequently show a high level of antisocial behavior themselves. In one large study, the parents of delinquent boys were more often alcoholic or criminal, and their homes were frequently disrupted by divorce, separation or the absence of a parent.

In the case of foster care and adoption, depriving a young child of a significant emotional bond could damage his ability to form intimate and trusting relationships, which may explain why some adopted children are prone to develop anti-social personality. As young children, they may be more likely to move from one caregiver to another before a final adoption, thereby failing to develop appropriate or sustaining emotional attachments to adult figures.

A child who grows up in a disturbed home may enter the adult world emotionally injured. Without having developed strong bonds, he is self-absorbed and indifferent to others. Antisocial children tend to choose similar children as playmates. This association pattern usually develops during the elementary school years, when peer group acceptance and the need to belong first become important.

We know that the genetic factor is an important component when it comes to the inheritance of diseases. There are some defects/diseases that people got from their parents. But does that include the inclination to sexually molest children? I don’t think so. Can sexual abuse cause mental illness in young victims with no family history of it? I think it could. If anything, it could cause depression in some people.

Calling pedophilia a disease implies that those who sexually abuse children are not accountable for their actions. Pedophilia is not inherited through genes nor is it biologically based. Rather it is a learned behavior with an addictive quality that escalates in intensity and frequency. There is no doubt in my mind however that pedophilia is an illness that causes a person to develop a measurable sexual preference for prepubescent children.

Persons suffering from this illness can be treated however I am not convinced that their thoughts of having sex with prepubescent children can be totally erased from their minds. The threat of imprisonment, loss of family and everything they have worked for can act as a strong deterrent. But for that deterrent to work, the abuser has to have something to live for. Without that, he will continue to abuse children because his loss of freedom is not so great for a man who has nothing to begin with.

Do young sex abuse victims later molest other children and/or rape women?

Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence but despite that, many sex abuse victims do not later sexually abuse children or rape women. They somehow get past the sex abuse they were subject too and live normal crime-free lives.

Research has however established evidence of a ‘cycle of violence’ of which people who were abused and neglected in childhood are more likely than those who were not, to become involved in criminal behavior, including violent crime and sexual abuse of others later in their lives.

The question that comes to the fore is; Is there an ‘inevitable’ or likely progression from being sexually victimized in childhood to actually committing offenses in adulthood, particularly sex offenses?

All types of abuse and neglect in childhood put people at greater risk at committing crimes later in life. But important findings in studies have shown that in cases of sexual abuse, the risk is no greater than for other types of maltreatment. In other words, the victims of sexual abuse are no more likely than other victims of abuse to become involved with some form of crime including child molestation.

Studies have found that sexually abused children were more likely than other victims to be arrested for prostitution as adults, and the odds were higher that a sexually abused child would be charged with female and male prostitution as an adult.

Males who were physically abused in childhood showed a greater tendency than other abused and neglected children to be arrested for rape especially if the abuser was a woman. This is consistent with earlier findings regarding the ‘cycle of violence’ which indicated that physical abuse in childhood is associated with the highest rates of arrest for violence later in life. Thus, the violent aspect of rape rather than its sexual component or sexual motivation may explain the association. Indeed, practitioners and clinicians who work with these victims commonly refer to rape as a crime of violence, not simply a sex crime. Researchers trying to identify factors that put men at risk for committing sexual coercion have found that being victims of both childhood physical and sexual abuse made them 4 ½ times more likely to engage in sexually coercive behavior than men who were not abused.

Generally child molesters are not violent towards their victims but some rapists are and a child who has been physically abused by a woman is susceptible to wreaking his vengeance on other women by raping them rather than taking their revenge on children by sexually abusing them.

Men who experienced some form of childhood abuse accounted for less than 30 percent of the nearly 5,650 males surveyed, but they accounted for 45 percent of the group reporting sexually coercive behavior, says, Erin Casey, a University of Washington Tacoma assistant professor of social work who was the lead author of a new study appearing in the online edition of the Journal of Interpersonal Violence. His study showed that men who experienced only physical abuse were half again as likely to engage in sexual coercion as those who were not victimized.

What was most interesting in the study was that the number of men who experienced only sexual abuse as a child was too small, (less than one-half of one percent) to make any valid statistical conclusions. I take that to mean that simply because a male child is sexually molested is not to mean that he will automatically sexually molest children when he grows into adulthood.


As I said in the heading of this article, pedophilia (child molestation) is a plague that has infested our society. For many years, hundreds upon hundreds of priests worldwide sexually molested the children who were under their care. Even the Vatican initially tried to keep it secret. School teachers, Sunday school teachers, scout leaders—the kind of people you would never suspect would molest your children, have done just that. Whilst childhood sexual abuse is a subject shrouded in secrecy, you can clearly see that it is prevalent throughout the world. Every nation and every culture has in their midst, child molesters.

There are 1.9 billion children in the world who are under the age of 15. If 25% of them are sexually molested by adults, this would mean that as many as four hundred and seventy-five million children are sexually abused world-wide. If you were to place all of those sexually abused children into Canada, the United States, Mexico and all the Caribbean Islands, the number of them would be equivalent to the same number of people currently living in those countries. If that number of people had small pox, it would be a plague. As I said earlier, sexual molestation of children is a plague. It is a plague that has been with Mankind since its inception.

The good news is that there are many stories where sexually abused children have grown up to have a normal life after recovery. I was molested by my biological father and later by a child caregiver and throughout my childhood, I suffered with many of the severe emotional problems that plague children of incest and sexual molestation. But after my recovery, which subsequently included later living with kind and caring families when I was still a child, I have for many years as an adult, lived a happy normal life with my wife of whom I have been married to for the past 35 years and in which we have two daughters and five grandchildren.

All victims of childhood sexual abuse initially live in secrecy and it is extremely hard to break that secrecy when they grow into adulthood. But many adults, famous and unknown alike are now breaking that secrecy because we who have been the victims of child molestation are the only people who are truly qualified to tell those fortunate enough to have gone through their childhood years without being sexually molested as to how we suffered.

I wish I could tell my readers how to solve the world-wide problem of child molestation but I can’t. People suffering from medical diseases are being successfully treated and diseases like small pox have been completely eradicated. But people who suffer from illnesses of the mind—they are far harder to cure. Castration, executions and natural life in prison are not the answers we are looking for. Unfortunately, what we are looking for are currently not only out of reach, they are also out of sight.

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