|Posted on February 18, 2015 at 4:20 AM|
Do we really understand the meaning of paedophilia?
“Paedophilia: a paraphilia in which an adult has recurrent, intense sexual urges or sexually arousing fantasies of engaging or repeatedly engaging in sexual activity with a prepubescent child.”
Yet, in today’s society the term paedophile and sex offender often come hand in hand. Why is this?
After watching a documentary, “The Paedophile Next Door”, I was spurred to write this article; paedophilia is something that everybody finds abhorrent and therefore society does not openly discuss. There are misconceptions that every paedophile will become a sex offender, however along the path from recognising you have sexual desires for children to following through and enacting those desires, there may be a point where intervention could help prevent this happening.
It is apparent that after extensive research and questionnaires there is a population of paedophiles who are law abiding and do not want to hurt children. Yet, we continue to stereotype paedophiles and assume they are all incapable of controlling their sexual urges towards children and are therefore sex offenders.
The documentary showed the life of ‘Eddie’ who came forward and openly admitted he was a paedophile on national TV, regardless of the potential danger he put himself in by doing so. He realised his attraction to children of ages four and upwards in his mid-twenties, although he also realised he was not exclusively attracted to children, but women too. This is extremely common of paedophiles in today’s society as they become unnoticed and slip under the radar as they can often be married with children. Eddie described that while he could not control his thoughts and fantasies, he was able to fight his urges and not act upon them. However, he also recognised that he needed ongoing support, support that was unavailable in this country, and was planning to move to Europe where he had enrolled in a paedophile treatment programme. There will be other paedophiles like Eddie that know right from wrong. Do we offer them any help and support or do we exclude them from society?
Currently society tends to stigmatise, criminalise and isolate paedophiles. This attitude is likely to prevent paedophiles from seeking help and thus prevents any intervention between their desires and their actions. This is unlikely to help protect children. Therefore educating members of society about paedophilia may result in them becoming more willing to help and support paedophiles who are actively seeking help in order to overcome their sexual urges and prevent them from harming children.
During the 1900s it was a common stereotype that children were seen and not heard, making them an extremely vulnerable group in society. This allowed groups such as P.I.E (Paedophile Information Exchange), to share child pornography and share locations of children who had been previously abused- it was almost a networking site for offending paedophiles to collaborate and cooperate in the systematic abuse of vulnerable children. Unfortunately, despite P.I.E. being shut down in 1984, which was a step towards fighting child sex abusers, it was not enough to eliminate it happening in today’s society. ‘Childline’, a helpline set up in 1986 -designed to empower children to ask for help regarding sex abuse and many other issues- received 55,000 attempted calls on its first night from children suffering. Yes, this is an extremely worthwhile strategy, but would it not also be a good idea to encourage paedophiles, who have not yet offended, to come forward and seek help to manage their problems? By making a paedophile known in a community with the intention of helping them fight their urges rather than act upon them, the environment that surrounds us could be a much safer place.
Currently known cases show that one in six children suffer from sexual abuse by the age of sixteen, however, there is almost certainly many more unreported cases. Not all of these will have been victims of paedophiles, but a nature of similar ilk. The measures currently in place to prevent child sex abuse are clearly inadequate, and a different strategy should be considered. By encouraging people who recognise they have paedophilic tendencies to come forward and seek help, we may be able to reduce the number of paedophiles who become child sex offenders, ultimately helping to protect the children in today’s society.
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