Saturday, September 08, 2012

Soft-pedaling Pedophilia

There's this Gawker piece that drawing a lot of internet commentary. It deals with pedophilia and seems to be somewhat sympathetic.
But there is a growing number of researchers, many of them out of Canada, whose work suggests that pedophilia is an illness deserving of the public's sympathy the way any brain disorder is. Some of the scientists say pedophilia is a sexual orientation, meaning that it's unchangeable, regardless of how much jail time or beatings or therapy someone is dealt
I don't know about the psychology of pedophilia, but I've been a practitioner in child abuse cases from back when I was a Probation and Parole Officer. With no academic training in the field, but simply from working with those offenders in the real world, I'm convinced as well that the condition is unchangeable. It seems to be a sexual orientation, like heterosexuality or homosexuality.  I am not at all sympathetic, but I realize that there are various categories these folks fall into, and in my work-a-day mind, I characterize them into three categories.

I've found it interesting that many that I've known tend to specialize in one gender or the other, often not switching between heterosexual or homosexual liasons.  Another interesting fact is that the vast majority of offenders are male.  The female pedophile is an abject rarity.  Virtually unheard of in the system and I comment on them mainly because they are so rare.

First, and most dangerous, is the "Chester the Molestor" category.  These guys are active predators and are not only dangerous to children within their reach, they seek out victims seemingly at random.  It might be as innocuous as a child selling product for a school fund-raiser.  All kids are potential sex partners in his mind and he's dangerous to all of them.

The second category is the offender who doesn't actively seek victims, but offends with children in his social circle.  This might be the favored uncle, or the school teacher.  They don't intend to harm children, but gain trust and mistake that trust for affection and perceived sexual interest on the part of the child.  The child is often torn with guilt and doesn't want to tell responsible adults that they've been molested.  These guys do the most damage because of the conflict that they introduce into families and social circles. 

The third category is that guy who lets himself, through intoxication, become involved in a pedophilia incident.  It's not something that we can overlook, and the damage is certainly done, but often the offender did not intend to commit an offense, whereas the other two categories were in full understanding of the situation.

These are your classic pedophiles.  There is another category of offender, generally the guy in his late teens or early '20s who gets himself involved in a situation with a girl who is under the age of consent, but is indeed consenting.  I don't consider these guys pedophiles, although the law applies to them as well.

It is my experience, of the three classes of classic pedophiles, they recidivate at high levels.  Most of them wind up back in jail. They are dangerous to kids and will re-offend if given the opportunity.  The best place for them is in prison, simply because the prison setting keeps the children away.  They can't re-offend if there are no children available.

Don't expect me to have any sympathy for pedophiles.  I've worked with them for too long to have anything but revulsion for them.  The best way to keep these folks from re-offending is to keep them locked up.

There is one more class of pedophile that might deserve mention, and the article mentions those folks. 
Others have reason to believe that pedophiles are born that way, and that some of them will suffer through entire lives without hurting a single child.
If they never hurt a single child, they're not offenders in the eyes of the law. We don't convict people on their predilictions, we convict them on their actions. If someone knows that he's attacted to children, but never acts on it, I don't believe that he's in violaion. It's not against the law to have lurid thoughts.


Gerry N. said...

I have no anger toward rabid skunks or dogs either, that doesn't stop me shooting and burying them. In the case of dogs I've done it with tears in my eyes. Twice.

Gerry N.

Old NFO said...

No sympathy here either... ANYBODY that abuses children does not deserve to live...

Rivrdog said...

An excellent summary, PawPaw. In my first Academy, I had 9 hours of graduate classes in Abnormal Psychology, and the sum total of it as to pedophilia was not as good as what you have presented in a couple of pages.

You did fail to mention one important sub-class of pedophile: the leader/pedophile. The occasional pedophile of any of your three classes will attain leadership status, where he will be able to spread his appreciation for pedophilia and have a "force multiplier" effect. One such is the Mayor of Portland, Sam Adams, a well-known and documented case, but he has been able to hide behind his leadership roles and stay in power.

Good job on an important topic. It should be required reading in all POST training.