quarta-feira, 14 de setembro de 2016

The Teenage Pedophile

I believe that one of the biggest misconceptions about pedophiles is that they are all males, middle aged and that, above all, they freely choose to be attracted to children. The well known "pedophile profile" you commonly see talked about online. Of course that there are a bunch more characteristics described in this "profile" but I would like to focus mainly on age on this post. I would like to talk about the teenage pedophiles.

Despite being over a decade since I was a teenager I still remember quite clearly how it was to be a pedophile back then. It was something that I can't easily forget, despite thinking that we all end up naturally forgetting about our adolescence as we grow up. Maybe we'll remember more about it when we have kids that are going through that period. When they go through the same anguishes and difficulties, and the same joys and hopes and dreams, that are so characteristic of this unique phase of our lives.

I've talked a little bit about how it is to be a teenager pedophile when I wrote about Life as a Pedophile. I would like to talk more about it here though. As I've said in the beginning of this post there are a lot of people that thinks that being a pedophile is a choice. Just as they believe that you become a "pedophile" from the moment you sexually abuse a child. Both notions are wrong however.

First of all, no one chooses to be sexually attracted to children. I can't honestly imagine anyone making this choice out of free will. Even though I'm attracted to children I wish this wasn't so. Sure, there are plenty of pedophiles that wouldn't want to change their sexual attractions, but I personally would like to change them -- something that, unfortunately, isn't possible.

Second of all, those who sexually abuse children aren't denominated pedophiles. As I'm tired of stating, pedophile/pedophilia are clinical and scientific terms, not criminal/legal ones. By extension, people that commit child sexual abuse are sexual offenders, or child molesters. It's important to note that not all child molesters are pedophiles -- meaning that not all of them are sexually attracted to children. I will get more on this distinction on a future post about offending pedophiles.

So, where does a pedophile come from?

An excellent question but unfortunately there isn't a definitive answer to that, yet. There is the theory about the "abused becomes abuser", also known as "cycle of abuse theory". It would also explain why some children who are abused end up becoming sexually attracted to other children, but it has been contested.

There is also another theory that says that pedophilia is inborn, and that there are differences in the brain structure of pedophiles when compared to that of non-pedophiles. Thus pedophilia wouldn't be chosen, it is simply something one is born with. Finding out about it only occurs later on the person's life, during a time where their sexuality begins to blossom: puberty.

Now stop for a second and consider the implications of this. I had already proposed a mental exercise on my post about What if it was your son/little brother/nephew/cousin/godson ?, asking that people imagine what if a teenager in their family was a pedophile. I proposed the following:

So now remember that time in your lives (I mean puberty) and how things could easily become confused in terms of your own body developing and the new thoughts and feelings, of a sexual nature, that didn’t previously exist in your minds. I believe most people would remember that time as being very confusing. So, I ask myself, have any of you ever asked for advice/help from an adult regarding sexual issues? If so, what was the outcome?

Now, remind yourselves that you are "normal" in the sense you have sexual attractions considered normal. What if any of you were a pedophile and attempted to ask for the same advice and/or help? What if someone in your family, someone you love, were that same age and asked for help because he/she felt attracted to kids? That he/she couldn’t stop having those attractions towards children? That people their own age didn’t attract them sexually and only significantly younger people attracted them? How would you react?

Now I ask that you analyze your feelings and answer this question to yourselves: How would you think it would have been like for you if you were attracted to children?

Teenage Pedophiles

Pedophiles start to understand their attractions when they are around 13-15 years of age. Until then they usually feel this attraction, probably since they were 11-years-old or 12-years-old, but they can't fully understand these new feelings. As I've mentioned, puberty is a confusing period for most people. Pedophiles going through puberty though will hardly find any quality information online about these attractions.

Fonte: http://prevention.psu.edu/media/prc/files/LetourneauPresentation.pdf

I remember when I was first called a pedophile. I was 15-years-old. I had confided to a friend that I felt sexual attractions towards younger girls, even though I was already 15. He called me a pedophile, with a lot of rage in his stare. Later on I went online to find out more about pedophiles, a term I had never mentioned before. I only found negative things:
  • That I was a monster
  • That I would eventually sexually abuse a child (the self fulfilling prophecy)
  • That people like me should die (even if they hadn't done anything)

By consequence I developed a series of bad feelings and notions:

  • I hated myself
  • I wanted to die (I even attempted suicide)
  • That everyone I loved would leave me
  • That no one would want to help me
Even if I didn't desire to hurt anyone. Even if, until then, I didn't think of myself as a bad person.

That is a lot of psychological pressure to be placed upon a teenager, a person who hasn't finished maturing their emotional side and their psychological stability. Those ideas were so pervasive and perverse that I never logically contested them. I simply accepted them to be true and adopted them as my own.

Many of those same feelings and notions are reported by other pedophiles when they talk about their adolescence. In fact, many of those feelings end up staying with them as they grow up into adults. There is a project, conducted by the Moore Center for Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse, called Help Wanted. They conducted a study with the goal of:

The purpose of our study is to learn about how an attraction to young children impacts youths’ experiences and relationships during adolescence. Your experiences will help teach us important information about how to best develop and provide resources for adolescents who have an attraction to younger children 

It's important to point out that a third (35.6%) of child sexual offenders are teenagers. Also important to once again point out that only about 35% of child sexual offenders are in fact pedophiles. It's important though to be able to openly discuss pedophilia, specially targeting how to better support teen pedophiles -- so they can have a better life and become well resolved adults who are capable of managing their sexual attractions.

Simply ignoring that pedophilia is inborn, according to recent studies, and that it will become noticeable when the person hits puberty brings about a series of downsides. First of them is that we will be ignoring the existence of teenage pedophiles, which end up having no resources available, or support, when they go through this complicated time of their lives.

When they go online to search more about it they will likely end up coming across several negative, and offensive, things about them -- which in turn makes them feel bad about themselves. A lot of those teenagers end up becoming isolated, introverted and depressive. I know some of them that end up becoming suicidal or they also start self-harming in order to cope with those negative feelings.

As another downside we end up creating a potential problem when we don't provide support and guidance to those young people. As mentioned before a great number of them may end up abusing a child. The combination of puberty's hormones plus this emotional instability can lead them to do something they wouldn't otherwise do. Who end up suffering the most from this are the children.

Despite having said this before, on others posts, I can't help but see this reluctance to discuss pedophilia openly as being counterproductive. I can only see potential benefits when we discuss this topic openly, as a society. We will benefit the lives of several people, who will be able to stop struggling with bad feelings and will then have better lives. Just as we can surely reduce the odds of a child being sexually abused.

However society has this fixed notion that people that are sexually attracted to child should be locked away forever, even if they haven't done anything. Worst still, that they should all be murdered. So does this mean we should start killing teenagers?

No. As adults it is our job to help teenagers. To provide them with support and guidance so they can develop in the best possible manner. This phase, when they start to discover and establish themselves as individuals, is very critical. How can we not reach out to them?


Pedophiles aren't people that chose to be attracted to children, nor do they have a "profile", contrary to popular belief. There are regular people living regular lives like any other person. Chances are that someone in your life is a pedophile.

Those people were, or still are or will be, teenagers. Going through puberty and learning more about their sexuality. That sexuality though isn't the average one, as most people have. There is today a lot of Stigma about pedophilia and pedophiles. It would be great if people could give One Chance to discuss to not only discuss this topic but also to those people.

I believe that we can all agree that as adults we should guide teenagers into doing good deeds and having good behaviors. They aren't children anymore, that usually defer to adults' judgments. Teenagers (should) have responsibilities that fit their level of maturity. Considering this it is our obligation to make ourselves available to them so they can consult us when they feel it is necessary. 

In this scenario I don't see how continuing to perpetrate the stigma on pedophilia is helpful. Considering that many teenagers will go through a rough period of their lives, such as puberty, having to not only live with their feelings and thoughts about their pedophilic sexuality, but also with the stigma and prejudice that society directs at them. It's not fair that we, adults who have the onus of helping and guiding those teenagers, make them feel worst about themselves.

Instead of directing hatred and disgust towards those teenagers we should reach out to them. Make them understand more about pedophilia, according to an anti-contact view, and provide any kind of support/guidance they feel is necessary, if that is the case, in order to remain non-offending.

I can't help but see this kind of action as being the bare minimum that society, at a basic humanity level, should provide for those teenagers. I can't also help but view this as an important primary prevention directive in order to reduce the number of child sexual abuses.It seems obvious, to me, that we can have a positive influence on them, causing them to have a lower probability of eventually abusing a child (be it during their adolescence or later on their lives). 

More than that, and I insist on this, that is the least that we, as adults, can do for those teenagers. It's our job to help and guide them whenever possible. We can't allow the stigma and prejudice to keep us from achieving this basic goal. I ask again that you remember how your puberty was like and that you can put yourselves on the same shoes as those young pedophiles. More than that, imagine how your lives would be like during adolescence and having this sexual attraction.

The road to changes goes through you. Be part of that change.

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