Saturday, April 23, 2016

Do Pedophiles Deserve Respect?

What Is A Pedophile?

A pedophile, as I have noted many times, is simply someone who is, through no fault of their own, attracted to young children. It is someone with pedophilia. Full stop. That is all. A pedophile is not necessarily a sex abuser, nor is a sex abuser necessarily pedophilic (having pedophilia).

Tie-In to Primary Prevention

Preventing child sexual abuse, advocating against it, and advocating against genital mutilation/circumcision (of either sex), as I pointed out recently, are about human rights. They are about the child's right to their body, and respecting that right. The entire point of preventing child sexual abuse is so that a child can grow up free from knowing the pain, trauma, and addiction cycles that can grow from such abuses. It is about respecting the child, who cannot speak up for themselves very well. They are smaller, weaker, not respected or listened to in some cases.

The same can be said about pedophiles, and by pedophile, again, I mean someone attracted to young children. They have no social status if their attraction to children is widely known. The stigma is well-documented, so I will not touch on that much. But my point is that a pedophile does not choose to be attracted to children, but because of that attraction, they can be treated poorly. Pedophiles and pedophilia is also a human rights issue. Do pedophiles have the right to have sex with children? Absolutely not. Most do not even advocate for the ability to do so, although some do, and their voices, perhaps, are heard louder than the majority who do not hold their views. Should pedophiles be treated with respect?

Shocking Reality

Just crunching the numbers, as I did in a previous post, I found that a high estimate of offending to non-offending pedophiles is somewhere around 24% to 76%. In other words, that even if you take a reasonable, medium estimate of pedophiles and compare that to the number of people who exploit children sexually, and then expand that number, you still get the conclusion that most pedophiles do not harm children. I also read two small-sample studies cited in this article that show the majority of child molesters are non-pedophilic. I recently asked some researchers on Twitter how many child molesters are pedophilic. This was their response:

James Cantor, who is a well-known researcher based in Canada, is the one who responded. Elizabeth Letourneau is the director at the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse. Alice Dreger is a sex-positive psychologist. In other words, those people know their stuff. They said that about a third of child molesters are pedophilic.

This blog is dedicated to the primary prevention of child sexual abuse: Preventing it before it happens. The original idea was that, because I have pedophilia and I had no idea where to go for help, and because I ended up abusing a child, I need to spread the message that help is available and effective at treating pedophilia. I needed to make sure that some resource exists for other pedophiles so that they do not molest children. However, the shocking reality is that most pedophiles do not molest children, and most who do molest children are not pedophiles.

So obviously, part of the premise of this blog is faulty. Most pedophiles do not molest children. I still wager that a good majority of them want help navigating their attractions- and yes, the hebephiles and ephebophiles also. But the shocking reality is that what most people believe about child sexual abusers and about pedophiles is simply not true. They are not the same thing. I recently put up a handy Venn diagram on Twitter to explain what all is involved in sexual exploitation of a child:
I could have made it a lot more complex, if you can imagine that. For example, of the pedophiles that view child pornography, there is research to support the idea that those that view do not necessarily pose a risk to children. That is not represented in this diagram. Those that engage in child sex trafficking are more in it for the money than the sexual exploitation, which is also not represented here. The proportion of each group to the related group or groups are also not true to scale, unfortunately.

The Point

The point is that pedophiles who do not molest children deserve our attention, our respect, and our sympathy. As one pedophile, Todd Nickerson, put it, "I’ve been stuck with the most unfortunate of sexual orientations, a preference for a group of people who are legally, morally and psychologically unable to reciprocate my feelings and desires." I made the statement today that a pedophile who does not give in to their pedophilia and instead advocates against child sexual abuse is a hero. I was not attempting to apply that statement to myself, but about Ender Wiggin. Why? Because fighting an ongoing sex drive that is directed at children takes a lot of effort, a lot of courage, and those that do have my respect. A great analogy is a homosexual person who decides to be celibate and fights their attractions for the sake of their religious beliefs: They are just as deserving of respect, no matter how much I disagree with that particular situation.

He, and many others who are 'out' as celibate pedophiles on Twitter, get a ton of grief from haters on the internet who have no idea who they are. Bullying people and hating people just for having an attraction to children, even if you yourself do not understand it, is just as evil as racism. It is just as abusive as any other form of emotional or verbal abuse. It is the same as saying that someone with depression should get over it, the same as saying a rape victim asked for it, the same as saying an abused child should have stopped it, the same as saying someone on the autism spectrum should be normal, and the same as saying that disabled people need to be locked up in a padded room. All of these people are human, and dehumanizing them makes us all blind to child sexual abuse, rape, and other serious crimes and how they happen. The illusion of invincibility protects no one.

It is barbaric and cruel to be barbaric and cruel to pedophiles simply for having pedophilia, just as it is barbaric and cruel to sexually abuse a child. Yes, you read it correctly earlier when I said I abused a child. I apply that statement to myself also: What I did was barbaric and cruel. I have called child sexual abuse by other labels, like child rape, evil, and many other things: Those terms apply also. However, pedophiles have not abused children (contact offense or pornography) in most cases, but are treated as if they had. I believe that stigma is a barrier to the primary prevention of child sexual abuse.

Stigma and Its Effects

Everyone, no matter what issue they are struggling with, begins their struggle believing that they and only they are the one dealing with it. They believe that no one else understands them. This is common to abused children, this is common to rape victims, this is common to bullying victims, GLBTQ youth (or LGBTQ if you prefer)... the list could grow huge if I named every single struggle, but you understand my point. Breaking the belief that no one else understands can be easy, but with enough stigma, enough hate, enough desperation, that belief can become harder to break. Simply knowing the logical fact that other people must struggle with whatever issue it is not enough. Meeting others who have struggled with it is a great start.

The problem with this with pedophiles is that the stigma against pedophiles, the hate, the level of cruelty directed at them is that it drives them further from getting the help people think they need. Pedophiles do not choose their attractions. They do choose how to respond to them, and most choose not to molest children. Confusing child molesters and pedophiles, hating on pedophiles as if they have abused, and bullying people for having pedophilia contributes to the stigma which interferes with preventing child sexual abuse.

Bottom Line

Pedophiles are human beings. I will continue to sympathize with, empathize with, and defend pedophiles who are celibate and make the statement that abuse is harmful. I do this because I believe that doing so is vital to preventing child sexual abuse. Hopefully, I have sufficiently outlined why that is. If defending pedophiles as human beings makes me a monster in your eyes, then maybe you need to reexamine this post, this blog, and why I advocate for the primary prevention of child sexual abuse rather than just following along with an existing prevention program. I have a number of perfectly logical and valid reasons for doing what I do. If all you are willing to hear is that I am defending pedophiles, then you are just another internet troll that will end up on my block list.

2 comments:

  1. I think this article over-glosses an important point of ethical consideration- being that "Respect" is a basic human right. Disrespect breeds contempt. In Turn, contempt breeds a counter-culture, and a counter-culture breeds an aggrieved political party. This has proven to be true time and again, throughout history, from Hitler to the modern gay rights movement. Our current line of thinking that we should show disrespect hatred and contempt for people whom do not respect the rights of others is illogical, for leadership is ALWAYS by example. Hence, the second you show disrespect and hatred towards the worst sexual offender, you've already lost your argument that the offender "should respect the rights of others" at the door. Rather, one should model the behavioral patterns they seek to instill in others- namely by showing respect for all.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You obviously read the title and decided to comment, rather than reading what I am saying. While I agree with much of your point, nothing in this post discusses sex offenders, I am discussing people with a sexual attraction to children. That is a separate idea from people who have harmed a child, which was discussed in the very first paragraph.

    ReplyDelete

Comments are moderated to ensure a safe environment to discuss the issues and difficult content in this blog.