I can’t remember how I came across this article today, which was posted on Gawker back in September 2012, Born This Way: Sympathy and Science for Those Who Want to Have Sex with Children, but it struck a nerve in me. I couldn’t help but respond in disgust and surprise. While I have empathy for those who suffer mental illness or disorders and are born with physical disabilities, the actions of anyones behavior are not excusable because of their disorder. Otherwise, it would be acceptable to empathize with a majority of criminals who suffer mental illness yet have committed heinous crimes, such as Jared Loughner, Adam Lanza and other serial killers or mass murderers and criminals.
I do not believe it is right to exclude pedophilia from a form of mental illness or disability,as some psychiatrists and academics have proposed. I also do not believe it is a ‘sexual orientation’ nor is it ‘normal’ and acceptable behavior in civilized society. Children are not mentally, emotionally and physically capable of dealing with the emotions that go with sexual intimacy, let alone the potential physical risks involved from pregnancy to sexual disease. Young children are also not able to provide proper nutrition, care and a home environment to a child should they conceive. God forbid society ever becomes accepting of such inappropriate behavior.
Homosexuality is still not acceptable in the majority of society, even though homosexual activists have succeeded in having it become more normalized in the media, on television, in movies,etc and have pushed same sex marriage on some states and countries as acceptable. While we can love, treat others with respect and accept them as human beings, it doesn’t mean we must also accept inappropriate behavior. Pedophilia is not about love, but lust and an uncontrollable sexual urge or reaction to a situation rather than the mature love one finds when in an adult relationship with another adult of the opposite sex. Of course homosexuals believe that as adults they are in a loving and mature relationship with another adult and therefore should have the right to marry, however, this relationship takes away from the whole concept of what marriage is meant to be, the union of a man and woman to share life, parenting and old age with in a relationship as nature intended. Marriage is also a religious sacrament to most people and therefore trying to redefine what God intended is an abomination.
The article starts by describing a pedophiles disturbing encounter and sexual molestation of his seven year old niece:
It’s not easy to listen to Terry talk about the time he had sex with a seven-year-old girl. But after his psychotherapist put us in touch, he agreed to lay it all out for me during a phone call and email, and I was enthralled the way one might stare at a man falling from a bridge. Terry is 38, a small-business owner, and deeply religious—he ends all our correspondence by saying, “Blessings to you, Cord”—but back then when it happened Terry was 20 and a meth head. He was living with his then-wife, his marriage to whom had made him the co-guardian of her two nieces and a nephew. The one niece was a baby, but the other was seven, and it wasn’t long before Terry, addicted and in a marriage he calls “abusive,” fell for his niece and began a sexual relationship with her.
It started with him walking around the house naked with an erection, making sure to amble past the little girl and inspire her curiosity. After doing that a couple times, Terry began to masturbate with the door open. When his niece would come to watch, Terry would tell her that what they were doing was a secret that she couldn’t tell anyone. “In my mind, I had the thought that I would never hurt her and that she would grow up trusting me,” Terry said. He says he wanted her to look up to him.
The third time Terry masturbated in front of his niece, he did it while she was in the room, and he played a pornographic movie on the TV. “Do you want to try what they’re doing?” he asked her, motioning to the woman riding the man onscreen. His niece said yes, and she took off her shorts before straddling him. To avoid getting too graphic, Terry said he knew almost immediately that he was going to injure the girl if he went any further—”she was so small,” is how he puts it. “That’s when the reality clicked in and I grabbed her and lifted her off of me and sat her next to me on the couch,” he says. “I got up and walked out of the room saying, ‘Lord, what am I doing! Lord, forgive me for what I have done!’”
The article continues to discuss how society treats pedophiles as sex offenders, incarcerates them and outcasts them. It also discusses how some researchers believe that pedophilia is an illness some are born with, despite there being no proof of this, nor any proof of homosexuality being something anyone is ‘born with’. The article then goes on to discuss how some researchers believe pedophilia is a ‘sexual orientation’, similar to what homosexuals claim homosexuality is and therefore we should accept it and instead of incarcerating them we should empathize with them and offer mental health or addiction type therapy for them, like we do for alcoholics or drug abusers. I found this somewhat ironic, considering those who advocate for homosexuality are unwilling to provide any kind of therapy/treatment for homosexuals in the same manner, yet they claim homosexuality is a sexual orientation.
In an ABC News article from 2003, a corrections officer from Los Angeles told reporter Michael S. James that imprisoned pedophiles “usually don’t make it” without protective custody. Leslie Walker, a prisoner’s rights activist, told James, “[Child sex offenders] are at risk of being murdered, having their food taken, having their cells defecated and urinated in. Their life is truly a living hell.” Good, most people will say. 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. 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 this research proves to be correct, it should help shape both our public policy and our public attitude, so that we’re protecting kids while also protecting pedophiles from angry mobs, cellmates, and themselves.
If pedophilia is a mental illness or disorder and unchangeable, then we are right to keep such people locked up and away from society to prevent them from harming innocent children. They may not be accepted in prison, but they are not wanted in society either to roam and potentially assault our children. Just as we must keep those who are potentially violent and dangerous we must keep people like that away from the general population before they commit crimes.
On Valentine’s Day of last year, Dr. Vernon Quinsey, then of Queen’s University, and Dr. Hubert Van Gijseghem (pronounced HI-sheh-hem), who was retired from the University of Montreal, testified before the Canadian Parliament’s “Committee on Justice and Human Rights.” The topic of the day was mandatory minimum sentences for people convicted of sexual offenses against children. For about two hours, Quinsey and Van Gijseghem discussed what they believed would be the appropriate course of action when it came to imprisoning people caught with child pornography, or attempting to have sex with a minor.
Dr. Van Gijseghem says:
[I]t is a fact that real pedophiles account for only 20 percent of sexual abusers. If we know that pedophiles are not simply people who commit a small offence from time to time but rather are grappling with what is equivalent to a sexual orientation just like another individual may be grappling with heterosexuality or even homosexuality, and if we agree on the fact that true pedophiles have an exclusive preference for children, which is the same as having a sexual orientation, everyone knows that there is no such thing as real therapy. You cannot change this person’s sexual orientation.
What Van Gijseghem meant by “real pedophiles” is the definition most of the scientists I spoke to use and the definition we’ll use throughout this article. That is, people—the overwhelming majority of whom are men—who have an unwavering sexual attraction to prepubescent children. When you start to read a lot about pedophilia, you realize that the dialogue gets muddied because so many laymen use the term “pedophile” to mean anyone who sexualizes a child. But a 21-year-old who has intercourse with a 16-year-old, while not a good decision maker, is probably not a pedophile. Nor is someone who, say, exposes himself to a 5-year-old boy necessarily a pedophile. They may have committed a pedophilic act, but unless they have a clear preference for undeveloped children the way heterosexual men have for women, they are not pedophiles.
Personally, I believe anyone who harms a child should be inprisoned for life, if not given the death penalty in cases of murder and sexual assault. I think our legal system has been too lenient on sex offenders, allowing them out again to repeat the same crime again. Keeping dangerous people from society is not about providing therapy, even though that is what many liberal groups like the ACLU might believe, but it is about protection of society from evil doers and criminals.
Van Gjiseghem says what he and his colleagues mean by sexual orientation is a person’s inborn and unalterable sexual preference, irrespective of whether that preference is harmful to others or not. Currently, there is no significant longitudinal evidence that pedophiles can be made to not be attracted to children, and thus it can be defined as their orientation. And if pedophilia is a sexual orientation, that also means it’s futile to send pedophiles to prison in an effort to alter their attractions. Doing so is akin to sending a homosexual child off to a religious-based institution that claims it can “pray the gay away.”
This statement clearly shows the danger of accepting pedophilia as a sexual orientation, just as the homosexual advocates have accepted homosexuality as a sexual orientation. If we accept pedophilia than we can not punish them for physically acting on their desire to have sex with a child. The pedophile will claim it is love, just as homosexuals claim they have a right to love who they want. While we don’t jail homosexuals for their actions, since it is normally behavior between consenting adults, we do inprison pedophiles who sexually abuse children, because it is sexual abuse and a child does not understand the mental and emotional ramifications of consenting to such behavior and are often ‘groomed’ into trusting the perpetrator.
The article further goes on to express sympathy and empathy for those who are pedophiles, and compares rejection of pedophilia to criticism or alienation that homosexuals have endured, and states that because of societies disapproval pedophiles are not tolerated in society:
Imagine a world in which admitting your attraction to busty women or tall men led to alienation, jail time, or your murder. Older gay men can probably remember such an era, but nowadays most sexual appetites have been mainstreamed to the point of banality. Pedophiles, for obvious reasons, don’t enjoy the same kind of tolerance, and thus it seems as if they may be locked forever in a sexual prison from the moment they’re born.
The article further discusses research performed by Dr Cantor, of Canada’s Clinc for Addiction and Mental Health, who has been studying the brain ‘wiring’ of pedophiles for about 12 years and who believes pedophilia is an inherit trait prenatal children, particularly males, are susceptible to due to poor nutrition, stress factors and other incidents that might cause the development of the fetal brain to fail, creating lower IQ’s, left handedness, pedophilia and mental disorders such as schizophrenia. While I don’t doubt prenatal stress and nutrition could be attributed to a lot of problems in children from physical disabilities to mental disorders and allergies, I don’t believe that every child who is born left handed or under prenatal stress is going to be a pedophile either. I do believe it is possible that poor brain development could lead one to have a lower IQ, act more impulsively and tend to make poor decisions, despite knowing right from wrong. This is what I believe influences the decisions of most people who act criminally or on impulse rather than on common sense. However, not all criminals are insane, have lower IQs or suffer a mental disorder. Some people are just pure evil and do not care about others but only themselves.
Dr. James Cantor is the Head of Research in the Sexual Behaviours Clinic at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Canada’s largest mental health and teaching hospital. He’s also an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto’s school of medicine. He’s been working on better understanding pedophiles for about 12 years now using a variety of methods. In the Kurt Freund Phallometric Lab, Cantor and his colleagues can attach an instrument to sex offenders’ penises in order to gauge their responses to a variety of sexually charged images. The Freund lab, Cantor tells me during a phone call last week, is one of the few in the world that can measure increases in penis volume rather than just increases in circumference.
Cantor says his first indication that there was something different about pedophiles’ brains was that, compared to teleiophile offenders (sex offenders who victimized adults), pedophiles’ IQs were about 10 points lower on average. He also found that the age of a pedophile’s victim was directly proportional to the pedophile’s IQ—the younger the children, the lower the attacker’s intelligence. “That was our first clue that the brain was somehow involved,” says Cantor, adding that pedophiles also performed relatively poorly on memory tests.
Other patterns soon emerged: Pedophiles tended to be shorter than teleiophiles, which Cantor says told him “whatever’s going on, it’s not just the brain; it seems to be that the whole body isn’t formed quite correctly.” Pedophiles were more likely to have failed grades in school. They were also more likely to have sustained head injuries before the age of 13. All of this helped lead Cantor to the suspicion that not only did pedophilia have to do with brain growth, it had to do with very early brain growth. After several years of amassing a catalogue of intriguing research, in 2008, Cantor published a paper [PDF] about what he tells me was the last clue that made him almost certain pedophilia is a prenatal issue: non-right-handedness.
“Handedness is often a useful indirect way of looking at a population and getting an idea of whether the brain formed properly,” says Cantor. “Normally the left half of the brain develops more quickly and earlier than the other hemisphere of the brain, and that’s what makes most people right-handed. But if something happens during development in utero—poor nutrition, prenatal stress, that kind of thing—the brain stops developing, so the other side of the brain starts to compensate.”
In the general population, only about 8 to 12 percent of people are either not right-handed or ambidextrous. In Cantor’s pedophile studies, nearly one third of the men were non-right-handed.
“The only other groups that have rates of non-right-handedness that are that high are schizophrenics, people with bipolar disorder, people with autism,” says Cantor. “Other major behavioral disorders for which there is no longer any debate that there is some physiological contribution. The only thing that affects handedness is the brain structure.”
With that as his last finding, Cantor felt he had enough evidence to justify scanning pedophiles’ brains to see how they differed from average brains. Before he started performing the scans, he’d heard two dominating theories: The first was that pedophiles had an issue with their frontal lobes, the part of the brain where consciousness and self-control functioning is held. People with damaged frontal lobes tend to be more disinhibited and impulsive than the rest of us, which might lead a person to make terrible sexual decisions. But Cantor says he never agreed with that theory, because he never believed pedophilia was about suppressing urges.
The other school of thought said that pedophilia was the result of a problem with the temporal lobe, the section of the brain that controls our most basic survival motivators. Cantor calls them “the four Fs”: feeding, flight, fighting, and fornicating. He says that if he had been forced to choose between the two theories, he would have chosen this one “because sex is in this mix.” As it turned out, however, everyone was wrong.
Cantor concludes that despite their being theories for prenatal brain development and differences in the temporal and frontal lobe of pedophiles, pedophiles are ‘wired’ differently.
“There was nothing significant in the frontal lobes or temporal lobes,” says Cantor. “It turned out the differences weren’t in the grey matter. The differences were in the white matter.”
“The white matter” is the shorthand term for groupings of myelinated axons and glial cells that transmit signals throughout the gray matter that composes the cerebrum. Think of the gray matter like the houses on a specific electricity grid and the white matter like the cabling connecting those houses to the grid.
“There doesn’t seem to be a pedophilia center in the brain,” says Cantor. “Instead, there’s either not enough of this cabling, not the correct kind of cabling, or it’s wiring the wrong areas together, so instead of the brain evoking protective or parental instincts when these people see children, it’s instead evoking sexual instincts. There’s almost literally a crossed wiring.“
The good news, according to Cantor, is that it if they can figure out how the wiring gets crossed, they might be able to suggest ways pregnant mothers can help ensure their baby is unlikely to be born a pedophile. “It is quite possible that one or more components of the process are related to prenatal stresses like poor maternal nutrition, toxin exposure, ill health, or poor health care,” he says. “If so, then improving health and health care in general may reduce the numbers of people vulnerable to developing pedophilia, as well as other problems.”
I don’t know how accurate Cantor’s conclusions are and how much prenatal nutrition, stress and toxin exposure has to do with an increased rate of pedophilia in males than females, or if what parts or the world you are born in has any affect, but I believe there are some cultural differences in parts of the world, such as the Middle East, where pedophilia is acceptable behavior and marrying child brides is condoned. I doubt that pedophilia,like homosexuality,is something children are born with because there are more cultural differences where pedophilia is acceptable and because it seems to affect males more than females or is a lifestyle choice or desire of men more than women. I have also heard studies report that most sex offenders and pedophiles have been molested themselves as children, which makes the most sense. Those who have been mistreated tend to grow up abusers themselves either as rebellion or because they haven’t learned differently.
Cord Jefferson of Gawker, concludes the article by saying:
Every expert with whom I spoke wanted to get one thing straight: Being a pedophile is different from being a child molester.
I found this comment and this ‘expert’ opinion rather disturbing because pedophilia is acting as a child molester, at least if they act on their desires. While having an attraction for young kids is disturbing, acting on the desire or temptation is child molestation and makes that person a pedophile. I don’t think society will ever except pedophilia as normal behavior, nor acceptable, except among those are pedophiles themselves or lack morality and think there is nothing wrong with it, such as homosexuals or humanists who might sympathize with them. While we are free to love one another and choose who we love, we are not free to abuse children who are vunerable to adults and who are entrusted to adults to take care of them, protect them and not abuse them physically, mentally nor sexually. The writer, Cord Jefferson, goes on to say:
If we can get pedophiles to begin acknowledging their dangerous desires, experts like Dawn Horwitz-Person, a psychotherapist in Chico, California, who specializes in treating sex offenders, believes we can help pedophiles “learn how to manage their desires the way alcoholics do.” Horwitz-Person focuses on a very 12-step-like manner of therapy and acceptance focusing not on changing pedophiles’ basic desires, but “changing how they think about things.” “I try to get them to develop empathy and to get them to recognize the risk factors in their life,” she says. “I try to get them to understand that when they feed their brains a lot of deviant sexual fantasies, it’s going to lead to them acting on those fantasies.” There is no panacea, says Horwitz-Person, there is only process.
While I don’t believe pedophilia can be treated in the same way alcoholics or other addicts are treated, it is possible they can suppress their feelings by having a strong will, faith, and self control as it is for some homosexuals not to act on their sexual attractions. The article does conclude with some common sense advice that we should all follow and be aware of:
For parents wondering what to do while society and politicians get their ducks in a row when it comes to pedophiles, Dr. Cantor says that one important way to keep children safe is by disabusing them of the notion that strangers are the primary concern when it comes to molestation. “By far, the most common perpetrators of sex offenses against children are people known to the kid,” he says. “Not talking to strangers is a good lesson for children, but then their guard is down to where the actual danger is.”
This is important to remember when we teach our children about stranger danger and how to deal with inappropriate touching. Many times children are taught to be concerned about those they don’t know and not to talk to strangers, but sadly, often the person they need to most fear at times is someone they live with or know and trust.
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