opinion

ASACP: Pedophiles as Victims — Really?

Tim Henning

I have spent the bulk of my professional life working to protect children online. After nearly 17 years I have seen — what are for the vast majority of people — unimaginable crimes perpetrated against children. Children are the most vulnerable members of society and clearly require society to protect them from would be abusers. Those children that have suffered sexual abuse at the hands of pedophiles are quite obviously the victims. Pedophiles who perpetrate these heinous acts are quite obviously the criminals — vilified, hated and scorned by society — or is it that simple?

New research suggests that pedophiles are not created by their environment as long standing beliefs have asserted. It has been widely held as fact for many years that pedophiles are the result of a range of mental illnesses caused by a range of environmental issues experienced as children and/or young adults. They themselves were the victims of molestation — physical and psychological abuse — however — this new research suggests that pedophiles are born pedophiles and it is as much a sexual orientation as heterosexuality.

A fact that has been known for years is that pedophiles are one of the very few criminal groups that have a nearly 100 percent re-offence rate.

While reading this study I couldn’t help but be sceptical and even felt at odds with the direction it was taking. Pedophiles themselves might also be victims? What an absurdly ridiculous idea! Nonetheless, the research suggests that pedophilia is a deep rooted predisposition that asserts itself during puberty and is immutable. The research also shows that it is limited almost entirely to men and affects 1 to 5 percent of the male population and similar to adults, almost all pedophiles are most attracted to one gender. According to the World Demographic Profile 2012, there are 2,234,860,865 males aged 15-64. If the above statistics are correct then that means there are, conservatively, 22 million-plus pedophiles worldwide!

Researchers are now struggling to find the root causes of pedophilia and have dismissed long held beliefs that abuse in childhood plays an important role. Many studies have come to the conclusion that environment does not play a significant role. Further, researchers are making a clear distinction that not all child molesters are pedophiles. The research indicates that about half of all molesters are not sexually attracted to their victims and are acting on other urges such as violence, anger and rage. They often have personality disorders and their victims are usually family members. Contrasting this with pedophiles, it was found that they think of children as romantic partners and tend not to abuse family members. Scientists have discovered that there are clear physiological patterns that many pedophiles share which suggests that something is different about pedophiles at birth. Pedophiles also share several traits that indicate they suffered with developmental problems starting in the womb and continuing into adulthood.

A distinction has also been made between pedophiles who act upon their sexuality and those that are able to control and hide it — never actually acting upon their desires. It has been shown in studies that some pedophiles have extremely strong impulse control while others do not have the ability to control their sexual desire for children. A fact that has been known for years is that pedophiles are one of the very few criminal groups that have a nearly 100 percent re-offence rate. In other words almost all pedophiles that have acted upon their sexual desire, and have been caught, re-offend as soon as they have the opportunity to do so.

In the past clinicians have sought to treat pedophiles by attempting to change their sexual desires so they feel attraction only to adults. Many clinicians have now given up on this approach as it was almost universally ineffective in preventing pedophiles from the further abuse of children. Most clinicians are now focusing on strengthening pedophiles ability to control and resist their sexual desires. Failing this approach the only other option open to pedophiles is hormone injections that significantly reduce sex drive. Failing all of the above the only option remaining to society is to ensure pedophiles never again have access to children — which ultimately means incarceration for as long as the governing laws will allow.

After digesting this information I found myself asking many questions. So what does this all mean to the true victims of these heinous crimes — innocent children? Does research of this nature really do anything to protect them? Does the fact that — perhaps — the pedophile is a victim of his or her own physiology make any difference? Should pedophiles receive any sympathy at all from society? Is it fair to the innocent child victims to paint pedophiles in such a light? Are we now supposed to feel empathy for them — the very monsters responsible for destroying the lives of countless child victims?

I will let you draw your own conclusions.

Supported by sponsor and membership fees as well as by donations to its Foundation, ASACP is at the forefront of online child-protection education that also protects businesses. Companies interested in learning about the variety of ways in which they can support ASACP in its mission should contact Tim Henning at tim@asacp.org.

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