“It all started with a big …..”
Researcher James Cantor is trying to find out where pedophilia comes from. Are pedophiles born with their orientation or have they developed this in early childhood? He says the following on the matter:
Are (pedophiles) born with (pedophilia)? I am not sure they are born with it. It is possible that they are merely born with a risk. But if we can figure out which of these infants, pregnancies, young people are at risk for developing pedophilia to begin with….Well we know we can’t turn a pedophile into a non-pedophile in adulthood. But if we can find that early link, if we can find where the whole thing starts. Then not only will we be in the position to prevent the second offence, which is the reason we have the justice system, but if we can figure out what that first link is than we can prevent the first offence.
(See the video link below starting at 49:50 through to 50:28)
The reason presented here to prevent pedophilia seems to be to protect society. For this to be a valid reason you would need uphold the view that pedophilia inevitably leads to child sexual abuse. And there is strong evidence it doesn’t. The Dutch government published a research study in May 2014 stating that in The Netherlands 80% of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are not pedophiles. Strangely enough Cantor himself acknowledges that child sex abusers and pedophiles are not necessarily the same thing (at 41.47 minutes). That makes his argument to protect society rather dubious. Can both his statements exist at the same time? If pedophiles are not necessarily child sex abusers than why should pedophilia be prevented?
Pedophiles don’t want to be a pedophile
@Nestorim1000 said on twitter that most pedophiles don’t want to be pedophiles. I don’t know if that is true. I don’t know of any research supporting that claim. In this case I can only speak for myself. Being a pedophile can be tough. The threat of societal exclusion and violence can certainly be depressing. The constant repetition of the stigma that pedophiles are (or will be) offenders is discouraging to say the least especially when brought forward by professionals. The taboo of the subject can lead to loneliness concerning either the sexual orientation or in general life.
But being a pedophile can also be beautiful and surely rewarding. I call myself an active pedophile. I play games with children teach, play sports, joke and talk with them. Just no sex. I can also be deeply touched by the physical and characteral beauty of some boys. All this I really enjoy and I find it a treasure in my life.
Is a hostile society however reason to prevent pedophilia? Is it reason enough to intervene in the life of young people and/or their parents? Perhaps there are alternatives to lessen the pain and problems of pedophiles. These problems can be partially overcome by teaching society the difference between ones orientation and ones actions. There is also much to gain in strengthening social circles of pedophiles by more and better information, specialized professionals and self help groups. Lets start by educating teenagers in schools that pedophilia can be an orientation. Let us not forget that every high school has teenage pedophiles. Are we going to tell them it would have been better if they were prevented or are we going to tell them how their sexual orientation can have a meaningful role in their lifes?
Ethical debate is necessary
So is the psychological impairment, if you can call it that, of a pedophile enough to want to prevent it? If we as a society strive for a world full of normal people I guess that is the way to go. But before we start preventing pedophilia, which basically means preventing pedophiles from existing, I think we need a more balanced view on what pedophilia is. And in today’s mindset I think we are far from a balanced view on pedophilia and pedophiles. With the mere focus on societal safety, the constant unfounded stigmatizing claims that pedophiles will offend, I think that the call for preventing pedophilia cannot go without a thorough ethical debate. I dont have all the answers. But I will join a debate anytime with that one simple but powerfull question; Why? This is a debate no one should walk away from.
Definitions & Links
- For this blog I define children by the age of consent laws in The Netherlands which is all persons below the age of 16.
- Pedophilia is the sexual orientation of adults towards children. Pedophilia doesn’t say anything about the moral standards or the actual behavior of a pedophile. In order not to make this a highly specialized debate I combine pedophilia, hebofilia and efebofilia into one group and call that pedophilia. Much like mainstream society does.
- A pedophile is a person with pedophilia as a sexual orientation.
- I use the following definition of child sexual abuse: when an adult has sex with one or more children. There is certainly room to challenge this definition, however for this specific blog this definition will do fine.
- The video of the ATSA Public Engagement Event with James Cantor:
- The Nationaal Rapporteur published a research study on perpetrators of child sexual abuse. For now only available in Dutch. I know the Nationaal Rapporteur is working on an English translation. Coming soon. http://nationaalrapporteur.nl/publicaties/op-goede-grond/