Monday 30 December 2013


PEDOPHILES: Are they all a risk to our children?


As a medical diagnosis, pedophilia is a psychiatric disorder in persons 16 years of age or older which is typically characterized by a primary or exclusive sexual interest toward prepubescent children (generally age 11 years or younger) though specific diagnostic criteria for the disorder extends the cut-off point for prepubescence to age 13. An adolescent who is 16 years of age or older must be at least five years older than the prepubescent child before the attraction can be diagnosed as pedophilia. Any sign of a sexual interest in younger children is generally considered sexual curiosity rather than pedophilia. However, young children can be sexually aroused.   


The bad news is rather frightening because one in every five males over 16 years of age is a pedophile. In 2002, as many as 89,000 children in the United States were molested by pedophiles over the age of 16. The good news is that most of the pedophiles do not molest children.


As many as 29% of child sexual abuse offenders are actually the relatives of their victims and 60% are acquaintances and only 11% are strangers. 1/3 had committed their crime against their own child. As a child, I on one occasion was molested by my father and one of my granddaughters was molested by an acquaintance of mine.  My father moved away the next day and my acquaintance served a year in jail. Rarely were the offenders of young victims actually strangers to them. Strangers were the offender in just 3% of sexual assaults against victims under age 6 and 5% of the sexual assault of victimizations of youth ages 6 through 11.


Seventy-five percent of the violent victimizations of children took place in either the victim's home or the offender’s home. Males are reported to be the abusers in 80-95% of cases of child molestation.


Then, you may ask, why are those who don‘t molest children still referred to as pedophiles? The answer is obvious. Although they still are sexually aroused when they see a naked child however they don’t molest children either because they sincerely believe that it is morally wrong or they know that if they are caught, they will go to prison and be condemned for life. That latter reason is a strong deterrent factor that influences their decisions not to molest children. These are the kinds of pedophiles who are not a danger to children.


What causes a person to be a pedophile?


Pedophilia is a subject that’s not often discussed in an impartial fashion. That is because it elicits strong emotions and opinions about whether it is the direct result of choice or its cause is biological.


Studies that were conducted in the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in the City of Toronto established that there were a number of causes which brings on the onset of pedophilia in the human mind.


Pedophilia is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and other factors. (Nature or Nurture) Some scientists have suspected the existence of genes provoking brain defects that render the individuals more prone to pedophilia. Researches found higher rates of pedophilia inside some ‘pedophile’ families members than among the families of non-pedophiles.


Several studies have also confirmed that pedophiles are very likely to have been victims of violence and sex abuse as children which creates a victim-to-perpetrator cycle. If the victims of the perpetrators are neglected and lack supervision, and are still constantly being sexually abused, and/or  they witness violence among family members (as it often happens), they are more likely to become a sexual aggressor as an adult to accomplish this emotional need they seem to be lacking as a child.

Pedophiles experience such deep-seated sexual anxieties that they cannot develop normal sexuality. What drives pedophiles to act out their fantasies can be a lack of inhibition brought about by psychosis, poor impulse control caused by ingesting alcohol and/or certain mood swinging drugs. Pedophiles further present different action patterns in the frontal lobe (a brain region critical for impulse control) compared with normal men.


Pedophilia can also have biological causes, such as brain trauma before the child is six years old.  Accidents also associated with lower intelligence and educational level can develop pedophilia in a human being however, not every early brain trauma causes pedophilia.

Tests have shown that some pedophiles have lower IQ’s and higher rates of left-handedness than other groups of sexology patients. These findings suggest that biological factors play a role, and these and other characteristics of pedophilia may reflect a defect associated with neurodevelopment during prenatal life or early childhood. This does not necessarily mean that all persons with low IQs or those who are left-handed are destined to be pedophiles however failing school grades significantly more frequently and suffering from more injuries as children than other children can be signs that pedophilia may exist in their minds.


Recently released studies have also found that pedophiles tend to be shorter in height. The average difference in height was two centimeters, which is similar to the shorter height associated with schizophrenia or Alzheimer’s disease. Pedophiles tend to have less white-brain matter (which is responsible for wiring the different parts of the brain together) than non-pedophiles. The possession of child pornography can also be a diagnostic indicator of pedophilia. This however doesn’t mean that everyone who possesses pornographic magazines is a pedophile.


Another reason why pedophilia can suddenly emerge in the human brain during childhood is if the child has been sexually molested at an early age. Such an event or a continuous re-inactment of a molestation event can trigger pedophiliac desires that have previously been submerged deep in the brain. 


Although no one chooses to be a pedophile, such individuals are still in control of their actions and for this reason; they should still be held responsible for their illicit conduct. It is simply not enough to say as a defence, that the accused was born as a pedophile. After all, everyone when they were children were taught the difference between right and wrong and about consequences that follow if they do something wrong. 


This research done at the CAMH does not mean that pedophiles are not criminally responsible for their behavior according to Dr. James Cantor, a CAMH psychologist and lead researcher on the study. He said that the discovery of biological markers for pedophilia has important implications for future study and possibly treatment of pedophiles.


Among convicted pedophiles, especially those attracted to boys, the recidivism rate is high. This is the main reason why the Canadian National Parole board that issues pardons to ex-cons who have reformed, will not ever issue a pardon to a convicted pedophile even if the pedophile has reformed.

Treating pedophiles


Treating pedophilia requires extensive psychotherapy and medication. Freudian psychoanalysis would identify traumatic events from a patient's childhood so that such problems may be discussed and resolved. Cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses in identifying and avoiding situations that trigger patients to engage in harmful behaviors. Therapists can also try to fix the patient's cognitive distortions, like the notion that “the kid liked it.” Pedophiles that complete a psychological treatment program are less likely to commit another offense, or if they do, the crime is typically non-sexual in nature; however, not all pedophiles respond to psychotherapy.


In the province of Ontario, there is a correctional facility that treats inmates who are convicted of pedophilia. From what I have heard, the treatment appears to have some success with some of the inmates.  Certainly simply placing them in an ordinary prison without them getting treatment for their infliction is hardly the way to reform pedophiles.


Drugs used against depression, anxiety and compulsive disorders can be prescribed, like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These drugs (SSRIs) can control their sexual urges, decreasing their sexual fantasies, sexual desires and compulsive masturbation which are common in pedophiles. They appear to have a positive effect on a person's emotional state. Drugs that decrease testosterone production can induce a drop in the sexual drive of the pedophiles.


These drugs can also enable patients to feel sufficiently unburdened to talk openly about their compulsive and often agonizing sexual impairments. But psychotherapist must help a pedophile find a suitable replacement for the emotional stability he had received from his pedophilic sexuality otherwise they experience a major personal crisis. However, even when successfully treated, most pedophiles must struggle to restrain their predilections for the rest of their lives.


As many as 2/3 of all prisoners convicted of rape or sexual assault had committed their sexual crimes against a child. When I did group counselling in detention centres, I later had an opportunity to talk with some of the convicted pedophiles years after they were released from prison and I asked them what stopped them from committing more sexual acts against children. Most of them said that it was the fear of being incarcerated again and subsequently losing their freedom, their homes, their cars, their jobs and even their families. They said that that fear was so strong a deterrent, they simply didn’t re-offend.

It seems to me that the risk of re-offending is greater if pedophiles have nothing to lose. This is why, in my opinion that pedophiles released from prison should be given an opportunity to get a job, find someone who will love them and possess things that they would otherwise lose if they re-offend. Treating them as the community pariah will simply drive them further into committing the act of pedophilia since they have nothing to lose but their freedom.


Myths about pedophilia


If anyone is of the impression that religion is the way to reform pedophiliacs, put that out of your minds. It didn’t stop the thousands of priests who molested many thousands of child victims.


Physical castration is out of the question and chemical castration hasn’t really proved to be an effective way to treat pedophilia.


There is a myth that pedophiles will physically harm the children they molest. Other than the molesters who commit anal penetration on their victims, it is highly unlikely that they will otherwise cause physical harm to their victims. For the most part, they actually love their victims. I realize how hard that is to believe but there is often a fraternal relationship between the molester and the victim. This could come about because the molester finds it hard to make friends with adults and the victim has a need to have a friendly relationship with a father figure.


Obviously the way to reduce child molestation in situations like the one I just described is to treat both the molester and the victim so that both can find alternative ways of obtaining more appropriate relationships with adults.


I hope this article has given you some insight as to what pedophilia is, what causes it and how to treat those suffering from this unfortunate infliction.






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