quinta-feira, 16 de junho de 2016

About the non-offending pedophile

There is in today's society, on a general level, the idea that pedophiles are the same as child abusers. Just as that pedophilia is a crime depicted in penal codes. I had already talked about this on some older posts ( A Spark of Lucidity, One Chance). According to what I wrote in these previous posts, pedophiles are not child abusers but merely people who are sexually attracted to children and that pedophilia is not a crime but a sexual orientation or paraphilia (depending on how you wish to view the matter). However there isn't, generally speaking, a lot of discussion about non-offending pedophile, those who do not wish/want to abuse any child under any circumstance.



Why prejudice? Well, first we must understand what the words means. On a broad definition prejudice is generated based on ideas, or judgments, that are preconceived about a person, culture or place. Not always those ideas or judgments are based on evidence and can be generated based on mere hearsay or from perverse and pervasive notions that exist at a society level.

Wikipedia defines prejudice as:

Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prejudice

Basically, prejudice exists from the moment someone, or a group of people, generate ideas and concepts, or pass judgments, based on "facts" or wrong and pejorative notions about other people. Is it possible that, in this day and age, this happens to pedophilia and pedophiles?
First of all we have this notion, believed to be truth by most people, that pedophiles are child molesters. More than that actual as most people understand 'pedophile' to be a synonym to child abusers/rapists. As previously discussed in A Spark of Lucidity this is not true. Pedophile is someone that is attracted (sexually, romantically) to children and it doesn't mean that he/she has acted on said attraction.

So we have here the first part of the existing prejudice towards pedophiles. This actually applies in twofold as there is the notion that pedophile is a synonym to child abusers and also the notion that all pedophiles are child molesters.

There are studies that indicate a proportion of between 20% to 35% of pedophiles among sex offenders who have abused a child. Therefore the majority of child abusers are not composed of people who are sexually attracted to child but of people referenced as 'situational offenders' in criminology. Kennet Lanning, a retired FBI Special Agent at Quantico and considered a specialist in sexual crimes committed against children, estimates that around 10% of child sex abusers are in fact pedophiles.

This leads to belief that there are more pedophiles that don't wish to abuse children than of those who do and therefore less of them that actually do abuse a child. This also leads to belief that, lacking a greater prevalence of pedophiles among child sex abusers, pedophiles aren't "filthy and vile people who want to abuse children and get sexual gratification by causing and/or seeing the suffering of children".

This is. in fact, corroborated by this study, found via B4U-ACT, where it is noted the lack of prevalence of abnormal or pathological character flaws in pedophiles when compared to non-pedophiles.
Studies of personality characteristics on average find low levels of aggression among pedophiles. Other than the attraction itself, studies fail to find any abnormal or pathological characteristics. In particular, people attracted to children or pubertal adolescents have not been found to exhibit narcissism, psychosexual immaturity, low intelligence, aversion to adults, psychopathology, neurosis, or any personality disorder any more than people attracted to adults. The presence of these characteristics have been assumed, rather than being tested scientifically (Bradford et al., 1988; Langevin, 1983; Okami & Goldberg, 1992; Wilson & Cox, 1983).
I understand it is hard for most people to stop and think about these issues. Mainly because said reflection exercise leads to contesting several ideas, notions and preconceptions about pedophiles. However this reflection exercise is something very important to be accomplished when we talk about primary prevention of child sexual abuse. I discussed this previously in 'Kids are people! Keep them (and teach them how to keep themselves) safe!'.

Another prejudice which is widely disseminated is that pedophilia is a crime, and that it exists on penal codes, which happens when someone sexually abuse a child. As per discussed in 'A Spark of Lucidity' such notion, that pedophilia is a crime, is not correct nor it is valid. Depending how you wish to view it pedophilia could be a mental disorder, a paraphilia or a sexual orientation. However there is no such crime named PEDOPHILIA defined in penal codes.

There are indeed entries in such penal codes defining child sexual abuse or child pornography possession but it is important to point out that such definitions don't mention the word PEDOPHILIA. That is because pedophilia is a scientific term (be it from psychology, sexology or psychiatry) which denotes a person who is sexually attracted to children.

I would like to say again that it is possible to understand the difficulty most people have of contesting their previous knowledge about these issues. Neither that nor the great emotional load involved in discussing this topic are good enough excuses to refuse to discuss, in a rational manner, this subject and its implications. Failing to do so, meaning contesting one's knowledge and ideas and notions, generates something worst than prejudice: bigotry. 


Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bigotry

As mentioned in the image above bigotry is a prejudiced, close minded attitude that generates an intolerance and/or hateful attitude towards a person or group of people. So bigotry can, and most likely is, based on prejudice and prejudiced views. What strikes me as most relevant in this definition is the component of hatred that exists in bigotry.

It is obvious that people have the right to their opinion on any subject, including pedophilia and pedophiles. However I would like to point out that the irrational disposition to refuse considering an argument, and thinking about it, makes one's enter the realm of subjectivity and irrationality.

The classic example of subjectivity is Don Quixote. The first time he made a helment, he tested its capacity for resisting blows, and battered it out of shape; next time he did not test it but 'deemed' it to be a very good helmet. This habit of 'deeming' dominated his life. But every refusal to face unpleasant facts is of the same kind; we are all Don Quixotes more or less. Don Quixote would not have done as he did if he had been taught at school to make a really good helmet, and if he had been surrounded by companions who refused to 'deem' whatever he wished to believe.
They lead us to deem that we have a good helmet, when in fact someone else's sword could cut it in two. In this way they promote laziness and lead ultimately to disaster. (Betrand Russell, On Education)
Why mentioning those issues above?  Specially considering they were all discussed previously in this blog? Well, mainly to talk about non-offending pedophiles specifically. I have already mentioned before how hard Life as a Pedophile is. I have also commented how, due to all I further discussed in this blog post, easy it is to hate yourself for being a pedophile and how senseless that hatred is in About Self-hate.

Given all of that I want to further point out that despite the perception that pedophiles are bad people this doesn't, in an overall manner, translate into reality when facts are analyzed. Pedophiles are not the majority of people that sexually abuse children. Pedophiles do not have, due to their condition, inherent character flaws so they aren't lurking for children on the off chance they can abuse them. Also that they are not liars or psychopaths by nature.

Pedophiles are people just like any other. There are good people and, unfortunately, some bad people just as much as there are some good pedophiles and some bad ones. I don't deny the existence of pedophiles who have abused children (on whom I plan on addressing in another post) but, considering the available data, they don't seem to be majority. In fact there is a tendency to indicate that most pedophiles have never sexually abused any children (nor do they intend to). 

Granted, there are pro-contact pedophiles, the ones who defend the idea that sexual relations with children should be legal and that it doesn't cause harm to the children -- a position this author is strongly against. Overall both non-pedophiles and anti-contact pedophiles are firmly against that notion and its arguments. I can imagine how ridiculous it must be: the idea of pedophiles being against child sexual abuse, or child-adult sexual relationships. However I can guarantee that it is a reality and it happens every day. Including some organizations like 'B4U-ACT' e a 'Virtuous Pedophiles' that take a stand against child sex abuse and that seek to support pedophiles in their efforts to remaining non-offending.

Non-offending pedophiles 

Non-offending pedophiles, whoever, suffer daily from the stigma, prejudice and hatred that is directed at them. They suffer from being curse and by being name called. They suffer due to society not being able to break away/through its per-concepts/notions about them and assuming they are all child molesters or people that will eventually become child abusers.

A lot of those pedophiles suffer daily from depression, suicidal thoughts/idealizations, paranoia and a series of other mental distresses. All derived from the notions they are bad people due to their attractions alone. It is not one person's sexual attraction that define them but their character and moral code. Being a pedophile is not a character flaw nor does it mean an utter and complete lack of morals. Being a pedophile merely means being human.

Because for as long as we choose to treat those people as pariahs in our society we simply reinforce these bad feelings they experience. This, in conjunction with the lack of proper medical and therapeutic assistance -- in case they so choose to want that, generates two problems.

The first is that we make those people, pedophiles, more prone to committing a sexual abuse. After all, situational offenders, the most common type of child abusers,usually abuse due to having the opportunity associated with some emotional instability (which can occur due to psychological problems, drugs, alcohol, etc.). By demonizing pedophiles and preventing any sort of help and support from being offered we inflict upon them similar conditions as to the ones situational offenders have. This likely generates a greater probability of child sexual abuse.

The second problem is that we condemn those pedophiles to live a life full of anguish, low self-esteem and distress. I can't believe anyone, in their right mind, wish upon anyone a life like that. As I have previously mentioned in 'What if it was your son/little brother/nephew/cousin/godson ?' that person, that pedophile, can be someone in your family. A persons you love, maybe someone you known since his/her birth and when they hit puberty they find out that they are attracted to children. Could you condemn that person to death? To be locked up for the rest of their lives? To submit them to heavy chemical treatments that have severe side effects such as chemical castration? All of that given that the person has never done something illegal nor displays the intention, or likelihood, of doing so?


We need to stop for a second and analyze our knowledge about pedophilia and pedophiles. We need to start that there is a big difference between pedophilia and pedophiles in comparison to a crime like child sexual abuse and child sexual abusers. We need to understand that by not acknowledging pedophiles as people, and pejoratively label them, we are only putting more kids at risk and causing pain and suffering to those people who are sexually attracted to children (with no gain whatsoever to anyone involved).

Discussing pedophilia will always be a hard thing to accomplish. It will be hard for those that hear about it because it deals with something that is emotionally loaded, as it involves children and a sexual attraction to them. I do need to stress out though that adults go through their daily lives meeting people they find sexually attractive and nothing bad or violent happens on a sexual aspect. The same is valid for pedophiles however there are some of them that might need help in controlling their desires. Isn't it much better to offer said help and support when necessary than to just ignore the subject all together and incur on the risk that a child gets abused?

The final goal here, both of non-pedophiles and of most pedophiles, is to ensure that as many kids as possible are not abused. Most efforts today are not spent on keeping children safe but on catching and punishing those who sexually abuse them. Obviously if someone abuses a child, be that person a pedophile or not, they should pay for their crimes. However I think it is much better that a child wasn't abused in the first place. Just as a person didn't have to have their whole lives destroyed and sent to prison for having abused.

In the end we need to ask ourselves this: Do we want to be able to catch more people that have abused of a child? Or do we want to avoid that children get abused and that more people don't break the law? 

If you answered affirmatively to the first question then we don't need to do anything more than what we do today. We can simply sit on our couches or beds watching the news and cursing those people who abused of a child and were caught.

Now, if the affirmative answer was to the second question then we need to change. We need to change and we need to do so now. We need to start changing our ideas and notions about pedophilia and pedophiles. We need to start being more empathetic towards those people and learning how we can help and support them. Most of them already have a firm stance and resolution to never abuse a child. Certainly being able to talk more openly about their attractions and struggles would help them feel like that even though there are people that don't fully understand their attractions and struggles they support them on staying non offending.

What do you prefer? To catch someone who has abused a child or making sure that said child is never abused in the first place?

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