Thursday, 7 December 2017

Pedophilia is a paraphilia that involves an abnormal interest in children. A paraphilia is a disorder that is characterized by recurrent intense sexual urges and sexually arousing fantasies generally involving: nonhuman objects; the suffering or humiliation of oneself or one's partner (not merely simulated); or animals, children, or other nonconsenting persons. Pedophilia is also a psychosexual disorder in which the fantasy or actual act of engaging in sexual activity with prepubertal children is the preferred or exclusive means of achieving sexual excitement and gratification. It may be directed toward children of the same sex or children of the other sex. Some pedophiles are attracted to both boys and girls. Some are attracted only to children, while others are attracted to adults as well as to children.
Pedophilia is defined by mental health professionals as a mental disorder, but the American legal system defines acting on a pedophilic urge as a criminal act.

The focus of pedophilia is sexual activity with a child. Many courts interpret this reference to age to mean children under the age of 18. Most mental health professionals, however, confine the definition of pedophilia to sexual activity with prepubescent children, who are generally age 13 or younger. The term ephebophilia, derived from the Greek word for "youth," is sometimes used to describe sexual interest in young people in the first stages of puberty.
The sexual behaviors involved in pedophilia cover a range of activities and may or may not involve the use of force. Some pedophiles limit their behaviors to exposing themselves or masturbating in front of the child, or fondling or undressing the child, but without genital contact. Others, however, compel the child to participate in oral sex or full genital intercourse.
The most common overt aspect of pedophilia is an intense interest in children. There is no typical pedophile. Pedophiles may be young or old, male or female, although the great majority are males. Unfortunately, some pedophiles are professionals who are entrusted with educating or maintaining the health and well-being of young persons, while others are entrusted with children to whom they are related by blood or marriage.
Causes and symptoms
A variety of different theories exist as to the causes of pedophilia. A few researchers attribute pedophilia along with the other paraphilias to biology. They hold that testosterone, one of the male sex hormones, predisposes men to develop deviant sexual behaviors. As far as genetic factors are concerned, as of 2002 no researchers have claimed to have discovered or mapped a gene for pedophilia.
Most experts regard pedophilia as resulting from psychosocial factors rather than biological characteristics. Some think that pedophilia is the result of having been sexually abused as a child. Still, others think that it derives from the person's interactions with parents during their early years of life. Some researchers attribute pedophilia to arrested emotional development; that is, the pedophile is attracted to children because he or she has never matured psychologically. Some regard pedophilia as the result of a distorted need to dominate a sexual partner. Since children are smaller and usually weaker than adults, they may be regarded as non-threatening potential partners. This drive for domination is sometimes thought to explain why most pedophiles are males.
A pedophile is often very attractive to the children who are potential victims. Potential pedophiles may volunteer their services to athletic teams, Scout troops, or religious or civic organizations that serve youth. In some cases, pedophiles who are attracted to children within their extended family may offer to babysit for their relatives. They often have good interpersonal skills with children and can easily gain the children's trust.
Some pedophiles offer rationalizations or excuses that enable them to avoid assuming responsibility for their actions. They may blame the children for being too attractive or sexually provocative. They may also maintain that they are "teaching" the child about "the facts of life" or "love"; this rationalization is frequently offered by pedophiles who have molested children related to them. All these rationalizations may be found in pornography with pedophilic themes.
Pedophilia is one of the more common paraphilias; the large worldwide market for child pornography suggests that it is more frequent in the general population than prison statistics would indicate. Together with voyeurism and exhibitionism , pedophilia is one of the three paraphilias most commonly leading to arrest by the police.
The onset of pedophilia usually occurs during adolescence. Occasional pedophiles begin their activities during middle age but this late onset is uncommon. In the United States, about 50% of men arrested for pedophilia are married.
The frequency of behavior associated with pedophilia varies with psychosocial stress . As the pedophile's stress levels increase, the frequency of his or her acting out generally rises also.
Pedophilia is more common among males than among females. In addition, the rate of recidivism for persons with a pedophilic preference for males is approximately twice that of pedophiles who prefer females.
Little is known about the incidence of pedophilia in different racial or ethnic groups.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fourth edition text revised, the following criteria must be met to establish a diagnosis of pedophilia.
  • Over a period of at least six months, the affected person experiences recurrent, intense and sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges or actual behaviors involving sexual activity with a prepubescent child or children aged 13 or younger.
  • The fantasies, sexual urges or behaviors cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of daily functioning.
  • The affected person must be at least age sixteen and be at least five years older than the child or children who are the objects or targets of attention or sexual activity.
A diagnosis of pedophilia cannot be assigned to an individual in late adolescence (age 17 to 19) who is involved in an ongoing sexual relationship with a 12- or 13-year-old person.
In establishing a diagnosis of pedophilia, it is important for a mental health professional to determine if the patient is attracted to males, females or both. It is also important to determine whether incest is a factor in the relationship. Finally, the doctor must determine whether the pedophilia is exclusive or non-exclusive; that is, whether the patient is attracted only to children (exclusive pedophilia) or to adults as well as to children (nonexclusive pedophilia).
One difficulty with the diagnosis of the disorder is that persons with pedophilia rarely seek help voluntarily from mental health professionals. Instead, counseling and treatment is often the result of a court order. An interview that establishes the criteria for diagnosis listed above may be enough to diagnose the condition, or surveillance or Internet records obtained through the criminal investigation may also be used.
An additional complication in diagnosis is that the paraphilias as a group have a high rate of comorbidity with one another and an equally high rate of comorbidity with major depression, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse disorders. A person diagnosed with pedophilia may also meet the criteria for exhibitionism or for a substance abuse or mood disorder.
In the earliest stages of behavior modification therapy, pedophiles may be narrowly viewed as being attracted to inappropriate persons. Such aversive stimuli as electric shocks have been administered to persons undergoing therapy for pedophilia. This approach has not been very successful.
In 2002, the most common form of treatment for pedophilia is psychotherapy , often of many years' duration. It does not have a high rate of success in inducing pedophiles to change their behavior.
Pedophilia may also be treated with medications. The three classes of medications most often used to treat pedophilia (and other paraphilias) are: female hormones, particularly medroxyprogesterone acetate, or MPA; luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) agonists, which include such drugs as triptorelin (Trelstar), leuprolide acetate, and goserelin acetate; and anti-androgens, which block the uptake and metabolism of testosterone as well as reducing blood levels of this hormone. Most clinical studies of these drugs have been done in Germany, where the legal system has allowed their use in treating repeat sexual offenders since the 1970s. The anti-androgens in particular have been shown to be effective in reducing the rate of recidivism.
Surgical castration is sometimes offered as a treatment to pedophiles who are repeat offenders or who have pleaded guilty to violent rape.
Increasingly, pedophiles are being prosecuted under criminal statutes and being sentenced to prison terms. Imprisonment removes them from society for a period of time but does not usually remove their pedophilic tendencies. In 2002, many states have begun to publish the names of persons being released from prison after serving time for pedophilia. Legal challenges to this practice are pending in various jurisdictions.
The prognosis of successfully ending pedophilic habits among persons who practice pedophilia is not favorable. Pedophiles have a high rate of recidivism; that is, they tend to repeat their acts often over time.
The rate of prosecution for pedophiles through the criminal justice system has increased in recent years. Pedophiles are at high risk of being beaten or killed by other prison inmates. For this reason, they must often be kept isolated from other members of a prison population. Knowledge of the likelihood of abuse by prison personnel and inmates is not, however, an effective deterrent for most pedophiles.
The main method for preventing pedophilia is avoiding situations that may promote pedophilic acts. Children should never be allowed to in one-on-one situations with any adult other than their parents or trustworthy family members. Having another youth or adult as an observer provides some security for all concerned. Conferences and other activities can be conducted so as to provide privacy while still within sight of others.
Children should be taught to yell or run if they are faced with an uncomfortable situation. They should also be taught that it is acceptable to scream or call for help in such situations.
Another basis of preventing pedophilia is education. Children must be taught to avoid situations that make them vulnerable to pedophiles. Adults who work with youth must be taught to avoid situations that may be construed as promoting pedophilia.
Many states have adopted legislation that requires periodic background investigations of any adult who works with children. These persons may be paid, such as teachers, or they may be volunteers in a youth-serving organization.
The Boy Scouts of America has tried to address the problem of pedophilia by creating a training program that is required for all adults in the organization. All applications for volunteers are reviewed and approved by several persons. Adults and youth are required to use separate facilities on all activities. Secret meetings and one-on-one interactions between adults and youth are prohibited. This program has received several national awards.  Read more:

 What are the Implications and Future Directions of Neurobiology and Pedophilia?
Previous research investigated the etiology of pedophilia from a neurobiological and neurodevelopmental perspective, utilizing state-of-the-art neuroimaging equipment and methods and physical markers known to be highly influenced by developmental challenges. Although the idea of a neurodevelopmental etiology of pedophilia has a very wide scope and this idea can be attributed to other psychological disorders, we feel its relationship to pedophilia warrants stricter research.
Support for a neurodevelopmental pathway comes from research investigating epigenetic dysregulation of sexual development in general, physical characteristics, and functional as well as structural brain differences in pedophilia. Pedophilia seems to have a small hereditary component, with cases clustering in families and familial transmission of deviant sexual fantasies and behaviors (Gaffney et al., 1984; Alanko et al., 2010).
Sexually offending and incarcerated pedophilic men show increased rates of left-handedness, have shorter stature, experience twice as many head injuries before the age of 13 as normal counterparts, and seem to have lower intelligence than teleiophilic men (Blanchard et al., 20032007; Cantor et al., 200420052007). These variables are present in pedophilic men significantly more often than in healthy control, but it is not clear if the reason for this is the sexual behavior disorder, the pedophilic preference, or even another factor.
The push for neurobiological research has resulted in three major aforementioned theoretical developments, all attempting to explain various aspects of pedophilia. The frontal lobe theory is a contender to explain offenses against children from behavioral disinhibition and uncontrolled compulsive behaviors. Noticeable structural and functional differences in size and function of the left and right dorsolateral prefrontal and orbitofrontal cortex have been found in pedophilic men with a history of contact sexual offenses against children (Burns and Swerdlow, 2003; Schiffer et al., 20072008a,b; Poeppl et al., 2011).
The temporal-limbic theory tries to explain pedophilia through structural and functional differences in the temporal lobes, thus focusing on the misattributed emotional salience and valence toward children. Several case studies highlight temporal and amygdalar lesions or functional activation differences that might contribute to the development of a pedophilic sexual preference (Cohen et al., 2002; Joyal et al., 2007; Schiltz et al., 2007; Walter et al., 2007; Sartorius et al., 2008).
The dual lobe theory suggests that both frontal and temporal disturbances are responsible for the range of behaviors seen in pedophilia, such as diminished impulse control as seen with orbitofrontal deficits and hypersexuality through the temporal lobes (Seto, 20082009; Poeppl et al., 2013).
Therefore, future investigations in the neuroimaging of pedophilia should use stricter inclusion/exclusion criteria to better limit potential confounds and actively recruit non-offending pedophiles to close the gap in knowledge between offending and non-offending pedophiles. This will also aid in researchers’ abilities to understand exactly what regions of the brain are implicated in pedophilic sexual preference development, as current literature interpretation implicates the brain in an overly ambitious manner. Examinations of the symptomatology and clinical aspects of pedophilia should first try to replicate original findings before novel ideas can be properly tested, including testosterone and its role in pedophilia development or the role of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin and their receptor densities in relation to behavioral perturbations. What is ultimately needed in this research field are stricter participant inclusion criteria and studies utilizing non-offending pedophiles and non-pedophilic offenders in order to ascertain what differences are true to pedophilia and those that are true to sexual offending against children in general. Please refer to Figure  for a visual of research questions and directions for the etiology and treatment of pedophilia.
Findings and questions regarding the etiology of pedophilia.
Now that pedophilia is an increasingly accepted research field and not only a side issue, scientists are more intensively investigating not only how it develops, but also how to treat, and ultimately, how to prevent offending against children. Ultimately, the success rests with researchers willing to investigate a topic that still carries a significant societal stigma load but promises to offer a significant improvement not only to patients but also to society in general


The vast majority of right thinking people regard the abuse, sexual or otherwise, of a child, to be a very grave matter and a criminal offence punishable by severe sentences.

Paedophilia is also an ever-present item in nearly every news programme these days and therefore we are constantly being reminded of it.

Emotional and angry reactions, especially from victims and their families, is perfectly understandable. - and it is hard to see how it could not be so.

However we humans are rational creatures - and even in this debate there must be room for a rational discussion about pedophilia, it's causes, it's symptoms - and how to tackle it.

In that context the above information is useful.

As a crime - and it is always a crime - it must be punished.

But we must also seek to understand it's causes - and in understanding that - we can work on prevention.

Modern medicine and psychiatry tell us that it is an "illness".

And just because you are ill you are not allowed to commit a crime.

Others are saying that pedophilia is caused by a brain, genetic or biological disorder?

But if it is a psychological and psychiatric illness it is perfectly valid to seek to find its causes and seek its cures?

And - there are pedophiles who do not act out their pedophilia - and look to medicine to help them to manage and/or cure what is wrong with them.

I hope this blog today might elicit some rational debate about the topic?


  1. I have said this on another blog: chaperone recidivistic paedophiles for the rest of their natural lives. Chaperoning (or supervision) has proved highly successful elsewhere.

    Forget the speculative explanations for paedophilia and the search for a cure for this tendency: it's a will-o'-the-wisp. Chaperoning as a response is obvious (at least, to the intelligent) simple, and provenly effective. (But will governments spend the money?)

    1. I think your chaperoning idea is good.

      Could it be done by concerned volunteers if the money is not available?

      I say this as one who "chaperoned" an offender in conjunction with the authorities - police, probation and social services.

      It worked for a couple of years until he stopped cooperating - at which point I reported him and he went back to prison.

    2. As you implied, Bishop Pat, the offender's cooperation is vital.

      Voluntary chaperoning (in the absence of government willingness to salary professional supervisors) is useful. But even volunteers would have to be trained in this area, be committed to child protection, and would themselves require statutory recognition and legal protection.

      It should be a condition of offenders' being released under licence that they accept, and comply fully, with chaperoning requirements.

    3. I agree with all you say.

      The whole area is full of challenges and difficulties.

      And of course, those who do not want help cannot be helped.

  2. MournemanMichael8 December 2017 at 00:32

    And in an era of scarce public resources for huge health demands, when given the evidence both of high recedivist abusive behaviour and virtually no evidence of effective therapeutic curative interventions, would it reasonable for politicians to hold the view that therapy for abusers should be a very low priority and child protection strategies to "curtail/restrict" convicted abusers should take precedence?

    1. MMM, I agree with you about the resources problem and indeed your curtail point.

      But maybe there are ways around it?

      Would it be feasible to confiscate offenders resources to pay for it?

      I often think this when I see people of means going to prison for abusing and then returning to their wealthy lifestyles.

      And, what about requiring people like churches to pay for therapy when the abuse occurred in places and with people associated with them?

      Returning offenders also add to the huge prison budget.

    2. Mourneman, I read somewhere that the recidivism rate for pedophile offenses is in fact quite low.

    3. MourneManMichael8 December 2017 at 11:27

      See if you can find what you once read Anon @ 09:08 and share it with us. It would be interesting to compare the research methodology behind that assertion with studies that show quite the reverse finding.
      And that of course must be in the context that it is impossible to know the reality of the level of recidivist offences by sex abusers. Googling "Sex abuse Recidivism Rates" will inform anyone interested and R Przybyeski's "Adult Sex Offender Recidivism" shows the dangers of accepting simplistic narratives.
      In simple terms: recidivism can only be measured against findings of further offences, and given the very devious nature of sex offenders, they're hardly likely to 'come clean' and admit undetected abuse.
      I'm a strong supporter of the chaperone approach Magna describes above, both from past professional experience and research evidence. That's what prompted my question above.
      A basic child protection stance always recognises that the child or vulnerable adult is the client whose needs are paramount and must always take precedence over the "needs" of the offender/abuser.

    4. Excellent last sentence in your post MMM... "A basic child protection stance always recognises that the child...... needs are paramount..".
      That summarises the law.
      That summarises what teachers and social workers of all kinds are now trained to understand.

    5. MourneManMichael8 December 2017 at 15:17

      I agree A@ 14:31 that this is current training and has been the case for a considerable time now. But regrettably not always so.
      In the past the caring professions weŕe less hard headedly realistic. Training in the 60's /70's was very influenced by psychotherapeutic influences with over emphasis on views that with the 'right therapy' sufficient self awareness would catalyse change and redemption . The 'rule of optimism' was pervasive and led to very misguided assessments sadly reflected in many abuse tragedies.
      Having said that, the caring professions were, and still are, much hampered by the scarce resources allocated perhaps reflecting societies priorities and wish for cheap and simplistic solutions.

    6. I think you're right about that too, MMMM...

  3. Pat, could you please accredit the bibliography list for all those excerpts to give them some credibility and especially as a necessary justice and courtesy to the authors.

    1. Click the link I published at the end of the piece published.

    2. But the "Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders" site provides no evidence of its source or authors: It looks iffy.

    3. I see the "Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders" is administered by Advameg: Lots of people are asking who or what Advameg is:
      Inquiry shows that Advameg is poorly connected with other sites and has mostly negative visitor reviews:

  4. ******

    Can the poster who posted the comment about the London toilet/psychiatry issue resubmit it. Only part of the comment came through.

    1. He was caught short-taken I suppose...

  5. A serious and worrying condition that has to be treated and managed appropriately. Damage to others in society can not be tolerated. Am I correct in supposing that some in Kingly Courts and places of power like Church Hierarchies tended to gravitate towards such behavior. I wonder what this says about society in general through the ages.

  6. The DSM manual seems to talk about pedophilia the same way it talked about homosexuality up to 1973. There was a move to recategorize pedophilia as a sexual orientation rather than a paraphilia, but it was blocked possible for "politically correct" reasons. Michel Foucault predicted 40 years ago that the great scapegoating movement of the 21st century would be directed against pedophiles (since Jews and gays are no longer available for scapegoating).

  7. Interesting to note the evolution of thinking re: paedophilia. In my seminary days we just understood the meaning of the word. We were never taught the seriousness and consequences of such behaviour. We were taught about boundaries. And I and others understood that to mean you do not ever harm, hurt or abuse any person. I took this insight with me into my ministry. Whenever I felt boundaries were crossed by any person in any way, I challenged that behaviour. Now with all our modern understanding in psychology, psychiatry, recividist behaviour, the pathology of abusers and mandatory child protection guidelines, including mandatory reporting, we hope no child, teenager or adult is ever harmed. Interestingly too, when some Bishops sought professional psychiatric advice for priest abusers, the information and analysis given (by professionals) proved defective and totally inadequate. I believe the concept of "companioning" abusers (as in a test case in Canada and with great success) is worth exploring. But who will take this approach? Not the Bishops, not our state agencies! Fundamentally the child's welfare is of primary concern.

  8. Yes, the rate of re-offending is very high unfortunately. That is why moving the offender to a new parish or school is so inadequate as a solution.

  9. MournemanMichael9 December 2017 at 02:28

    While agreeing with much you say A.@21:50, I don't like the connotations of the word "companioning". It too strongly implies allying in a pseudo friendship with the abuser. I much prefer the up front reality of Magna's chaperoning term.
    Again I consider the dilemma: "Given scarce public finances how do we balance and allocate resources for the therapeutic needs of offenders against the protection of potential victims and support to known victims?

  10. MMM - I don't like the word chaperoning - but I understand your point about my use of the word companioning. Hard to choose the right, balanced word without being seen to, in some way, be approving of the crime of abuse. Where possible all necessary support should be given to rehabilitate abusers. To say this loudly is to incur the wrath of many. But I believe that children's safety and well being is fundamental before all else and support to all who have been abused.

  11. Many jobs are gays only nowadays. The Catholic priesthood, hairdressing, flight attendants are some examples. In the case of the first two the target clientele is women of a certain age. In all three cases straight men under 60 walk away. Look around you at Mass tomorrow. Who would want Gorgeous, King Puck, Brendan Marshall or the Trolly Dolly preaching at them?