Are pedophiles born, like gays, or made in some fashion?

I have read that some pedophiles claim that their attraction to children dates back to their first glimmers of sexuality. 

If pedophiles are born and not made, then is treating them like criminals the right approach? Should they be treated more like, oh, alcoholics. Alcoholics got the substance abuse gene, the pedophiles got the "kids turn me on" gene.

Also, before anyone abuses the word "pedophile," it technically refers to someone who's sexually attracted to young children, pre-pubescents, generally about 13 and younger, though not all children develop at the same rate. Someone who has sex with a 16 year old is a "statutory rapist."

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Paedophiles are treated as criminals because the action they carry out is demonstrably damaging to the other party. Whilst alcoholics can certainly effect other people around them the actual act of drinking too much alcohol is only damaging to themselves. So an alcoholic who sat in a room on their own and drank themselves to death would not be a criminal. Nor would a paedophile who sat in a room on their own thinking about children. Similarly an alcoholic who punched someone because they'd been drinking would be treated as a criminal.

However, I agree with you in the sense I think they should be treated as having no choice over their sexual preference - they were "built" that way. This doesn't mean they haven't committed a crime, it just means we should not automatically demonize them.

I think that current attitudes toward pedophilia costs lives. Our reaction (as a society) to pedophiliac crimes is so over the top and lynch-mobish that I think it results in some of the worse pedos killing their victims if only to eliminate the one witness to the crime.

It's a good question. When we have tried to discuss this on previous occasions there has always been an outraged member or two ready to leap in and vilify not only pedophiles but any member who doesn't also vilify pedophilia.

Because of this knee jerk reaction in general, we are less able to study the phenomenon. At present, we don't have the opportunity to study pedophilia until after it has manifested into the perpetration of a criminal act.

Imagine you had a son who came to you at the age of 15 and confessed to you that he was struggling to control sexual urges towards prepubescent children. Where do you take him? How do you get him help? (Or daughter)

Throwing a tantrum at the matter is unlikely to resolve anything, gratifying only the tantrum thrower in his or her sense of righteousness.

If we keep doing what we're doing, we'll keep getting what we're getting.

Good point, Strega.  I had a client one time, male in his 20s, who confessed he was attracted to prepubescent boys but had never acted on it.  He was very disturbed by his thoughts and didn't want to act on them.  I made many many phone calls looking for resources and appropriate treatment options for him.  There is just ONE facility in the entire state that could meet his needs - residential, specializing in that kind of treatment, for non-perpetrators.  The cost was way beyond what he was capable of paying, so it was not an option.  Most private individual therapists wouldn't touch him with a 10-foot pole because of the liability if he acted on his urges while under their care.  The most disturbing part of the search was that there were several state-run (affordable) facilities, but they all said basically the same thing:  "Sorry, we can't help him unless he has committed a crime.  We only treat perpetrators."  I was eventually able to find him an individual therapist who specializes in that area and was willing to take him on as a client.

It's a sad state of affairs that there is no help for pedophiles until they act on their urges and commit a crime.

Where do you take him? How do you get him help?

I'd start with going to a therapist who respects the privacy of their clients and focuses on acceptance and move past problems rather than suppression. Then probably whatever the therapist recommends.

@Strega +1

I agree with the distinction Unseen is drawing between a pedophile (attracted to pre-pubescents) and a statutory rapist (attracted to post-pubescent minors).  (The concept of statutory rape leads to other scenarios which make little sense, something for another discussion.)

I agree with Strega that there ought to be some way to study the psychological phenomenon, but I admit that it's hard to imagine tolerating it enough to do so.  Perhaps an "amnesty" for those who come forward before ever giving in to the impulse?  (It'd have to be revoked the instant they act on it.)

Finally I agree with Simon as to why there is a "double standard" here between it and alcoholism.  They both drive you to do something that you really ought not to do, but only one of the two acts necessarily entails violating someone's rights.

I wonder if pedophiles would be satisfied with pedophiliac porn, since you can't make a pedophile non-pedo anymore than you can make a gay non-gay or a heterosexual into a gay. 

The pedo porn I'm talking about isn't existing pedo porn but porn made for them using very realistic CG, which wouldn't involve re-abusing any abused children.

But let me ask another question: Is there another type of pedophile whose condition is latent (if there is such a thing). Apparently, some offenders may become pedophiliac after exposure to pedo porn? Can it be latent and then triggered?

One of the cases that resulted in case law against overly-aggressive entrapment involved a farmer who was deluged with opportunities to buy child porn until he bought some, and then he was prosecuted. This raises the question whether pedophilia can be induced in some cases by exposure to it.

I wonder if pedophiles would be satisfied with pedophiliac porn

On this note, there is already a child "love doll" and assorted pedophiliac aimed sex toys on the market somewhere (can't remember if it was Japan or somewhere else). I found it shocking at first, as most of the commenters on the article I saw were, but if you think about it; what is the harm of giving pedophiles a legal outlet for their desires? I can't think of any harm. What about benefits? If they can control their pedophile nature through specialised pornography and sex toys, isn't that preferable to having them try, and inevitability fail, to suppress their nature?

whose condition is latent

If they aren't attracted to children then why would we call them a latent pedophile? If a man is said to be a latent gay, what would that mean? Wouldn't it mean he's not gay at that time? Maybe I'm not understanding what you mean here...

Can it be latent and then triggered?

Does it make any difference? If a man get married, has kids, lives to 40 and then sees gay porn for the first time and realises he's gay, does it make any difference to the discussion about gay rights?

This raises the question whether pedophilia can be induced in some cases by exposure to it.

If you mean attraction to children, no I don't think exposure would induce attraction. Just as exposure to the same sex doesn't make someone gay. Again though, what does it matter? In the specific case you are talking about the crime is that he purchased illegal material... not that he is attracted to children. The action is the crime.

Are pedophiles born, like gays, or made in some fashion?

If they have no control over it either way, does it matter? I don't think science has an answer to this but I also don't think it matters.

If pedophiles are born and not made, then is treating them like criminals the right approach?

The action is the crime, the thought is what makes them a pedophile. Children are unable to legally consent to sex, ergo sex with a child is rape and thus a crime, ergo the perpetrator of that crime is a criminal. I don't care who or what people are attracted to, just don't violate consent and we'll be a long way towards a happy society imo.

Alcoholics got the substance abuse gene

Being an addict isn't illegal. It's frowned upon. The action associated with alcoholism (drinking alcohol) is also not illegal.

Someone who has sex with a 16 year old is a "statutory rapist."

Out of interest, what do you call someone who has sex with a 10 year old? I thought rape laws would apply as it does with the 16 year old? possibly with additional charges piled on top.

Consensual sex with a 16 yo is statutory rape because even though they may be physically sexually mature the statute says 16 is not emotionally mature enough to legally consent. If the 16 yo doesn't "consent" and the sex is forcible then it's just rape, and not statutory.

Sex with a 10 yo is called aggravated rape of a minor because in addition to not being old enough to consent, their bodies aren't physically ready for sex which makes it damaging to their bodies which I think is the aggravating factor.

Sex with a 10 yo is called aggravated rape of a minor because in addition to not being old enough to consent, their bodies aren't physically ready for sex which makes it damaging to their bodies which I think is the aggravating factor.

That's the legal discussion, but the perpetrator is also a pedophile in terms of the terminology of abnormal psychology.

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