This is the kind of crazy you can’t fix. This is also the kind of thinking that has our legal system all screwed up.
Since you say there are so many misconceptions, why don’t you tell us what a pedophile really is.
A person with an intense and recurrent sexual attraction to prepubescent children, children who have not yet entered any form of puberty. And according to the DSM [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders], it constitutes a mental disorder when you act on it, but not just that. It also constitutes a mental disorder if it causes “marked distress or interpersonal difficulty,” and, as you can imagine, pedophilia will cause this.
In your article, you open by saying that as a pedophile’s numerical age increases into teenage years and then adulthood, the numerical age of those he is attracted to does not. Are most pedophiles really starting that young?
For many individuals, it is really an onset in adolescence, similar to how many sexual attractions happen. Individuals who are heterosexual, you realize you are attracted to the opposite sex when you are a kid. For a pedophile, you get older, but you keep being attracted to little kids, and many people start to realize this during adolescence. So imagine trying to deal with that during adolescence in addition to the other confusing feelings that you’re having.
If America is totally off course on this issue, is there any country that is getting it right?
We’re not that unique. But Germany is ahead of the curve. They have a large scale treatment program called Prevention Project Dunkenfeld, which is probably the first large scale treatment project that also includes non-offenders. They have billboards everywhere: “Do you have attraction to children in ways that you shouldn’t? You are not responsible for your attraction, but you are responsible for your behavior.”
OK, so as a guy with two young kids, how do I protect them?
There’s no easy answer to that, but you want to protect them from sex offenders. Most people who offend are not actually pedophiles. It’s interesting: When you talk about pedophiles, people think about the children. And they’re right. But what about the children who are struggling with this disorder? We need to help them, too.
But you can understand if maybe I’ll just try to keep them away from pedophiles anyway.
I can understand that. We need to prevent pedophiles from sexually offending and to do that, we need to refocus on early intervention, treatment and prevention. It’s not always going to work. No treatment of any mental disorder will always work. Depression treatment, schizophrenia treatment — they don’t always work. But we don’t throw our hands into the air and wait until the consequences of those conditions become bad before we do something. With pedophiles, we’ve already thrown our hands into the air. We should not be taking this tactic. The dire consequences only make it more important that we reach out and treat early.
Most people who have normally functioning brains don’t find children sexually attractive. They don’t commit felonies. So yeah… pedophilia is a mental disorder, but you could probably argue that anyone willing to murder another human being is also mentally deficient. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a crime. Mental disorder or not, someone is being hurt. Sex crimes hurt and ruin lives. Period.