*NOTE: For the sake of clarity, I will be using the term “pedophilia” to refer to sexual desire directed toward children and “abuse” to refer to child sexual abuse.
My research paper will be based in the idea that current American attitudes toward pedophiles are destructive. I plan to argue that showing compassion for pedophiles through the creation of public programs that offer treatment reduces instances of sexual abuse. I will support this by showing how countries with these programs have reduced instances of sexual abuse. The first step in changing our attitudes is to acknowledge the existence of persons with a predisposition to sexual feelings toward children. The next thing to acknowledge is that having this predisposition does not necessarily make someone commit heinous, unlawful acts. There are plenty of law-abiding, morally conscious pedophiles in the world that suffer from serious depression and self-loathing because of the feelings they harbor.
When pedophiles feel able to open up to those closest to them about their feelings and are encouraged to seek professional help they are more likely to resist the urges that they feel. It is important, for the sake of these people and for the sake of those desperate enough to act on their feelings that we offer better help to those in need.
Background: The article, released in the midst of the Sandusky trials, opens with the bold statement that “[O]ne cannot choose to not be a pedophile but one can choose to not be a child molester.” It goes on to argue that there are people predisposed to experiencing sexual attraction to children and the vast majority of them do not act on these urges. It also claims that it is intensely difficult, even dangerous for them to seek the help they so desperately need.
How I Will Use It: This is the first article I have read on this topic and I am already drawn in. It will serve as a good jumping off point with the wealth of interesting and counterintuitive information it contains.
Background: The article argues that while we may be good at inflicting punishment on sex offenders, we need to become significantly better at preventing problems to begin with. As a potential model, it cites a program in Germany that offers therapeutic help to men and adolescent boys who are attracted to children. Ultimately, the problem behavior must be stigmatized but the act of asking for help needs to be encouraged.
How I Will Use It: The article also serves as a good starting point for my research. Its main argument is very similar to my own: pedophiles need better resources to effectively manage their feelings.
Background: This original paper from the Archives of Sexual Behavior seeks to determine if pedophilia could be considered a sexual orientation and what the scientific, clinical, and political consequences would be if it were. By looking at what makes up”sexual gender orientation”(age of onset, sexual and romantic behavior, stability over time) the author applies these same dimensions to “sexual age orientation” to see how the two types of orientations compare and contrast.
How I Will Use It: I plan to answer this exact question in my definition argument. While the author of this article does not come down on any particular stance, he provides a lot of citations and interesting information that will be very useful.
Background: The article is written by a self-identified pedophile who claims to have never acted on his urges and to have never used child pornography. He writes about the unsettling discovery of his sexuality at the onset of puberty. He also recounts a story of sexual abuse from his own childhood. The author, concedes however that this abuse may be unrelated to his sexual feelings, as there are many people who are not abused in childhood who discover themselves to be pedophiles and many people who are abused who do not. He ends by stating that the causes of pedophilia are likely to vary from person to person but that its likely reinforced by feelings of inadequacy.
How I Will Use It: This story shows that there are good pedophiles out there who do not act on their urges and who simply want to get better. It humanizes pedophiles which is a good thing if we want to start to get better at treating them. Accounts like these are incredibly rare since very few pedophiles are willing to come forward to tell their stories.
Background: This succinct 2014 documentary about pedophilia in the UK talks to pedophilia experts and scholars, pedophiles themselves, as well as survivors of child abuse. It ultimately comes down on the opinion that radically new solutions are needed for dealing with pedophiles. One such solution offered is called “Circles” which monitors the behavior of released pedophiles while offering them support to prevent re-offending. It has a 70% success rate.
How I Will Use It: The documentary provides compelling evidence that much change is needed in how we deal with pedophiles. There is a lot that is said by organization leaders, police chiefs, scholars, victims, and even non-offending pedophiles that is worth quoting.
Background: This is a study of data collected from the Dunkelfeld Project.
Background: This article is an all encompassing at the known data relating to pedophilia.
How I Will Use It: Of particular interest to me is the section titled What Makes a Pedophile? Here it discusses two different perspectives on where pedophilia comes from. These are neuropsychiatric differences and environmental or social factors. Other sections that should prove helpful include Personality Traits and Treatment of Sexual Offenders.