Sunday, May 29, 2016

What Is Pedophilia? And Those Other Hard To Pronounce Things?

The Three Terms

Pedophilia is the condition of being attracted to prepubescent children, while pedophilic disorder is the disorder that fits the diagnostic criteria in the DSM-V. Hebephilia is the condition of being attracted to pubescent children. Ephebophilia is the condition of being attracted to post-pubescent adolescents. It is possible for anyone who has at any time been attracted to those age groups to not meet the rest of the criteria for the disorder, and it is possible that those who have a primary attraction to one or more of those age groups do not meet the rest of the criteria for the disorder.

What Is Pedophilia? The Simple Answer:

There is no simple answer. I am sorry, if you were looking for one, that you came here to find one. But the topics of child sexual abuse, of sexual interest in children, and of child sexual exploitation are vast and complex. None of them can be explained, solved, or reacted to simply. Attempting to oversimplify these issues will likely result in more harm, not less.

Popular Culture

Most people think that pedophilia is the sexual abuse of a child, and equate pedophiles with people who have molested or abused children. They lump people who have viewed child pornography into this group, even though the impact of viewing child pornography is more about creating both a psychological and popularity demand (similar to how posting on social media gets 'liked', and results in more posts, the download counts of child sexual exploitation material result in a sort of internet popularity). To most people, pedophilia is synonymous with the sexual abuse of a child. This is wrong. Most abusers do not have a sexual attraction to children, and most who have a sexual attraction to children do not sexually abuse children.

Why Is Usage Important?

It is easy to think that sexual abuse could never happen to anyone you know. The statistics make it extremely likely that you already do know someone who was affected by child sexual abuse, but it is extremely unlikely that they will talk about it. By portraying those who do sexually abuse as the filthy, monstrous, inhuman pedophile, we blind ourselves to the facts about child sexual abuse. To use the incorrect terminology, to dehumanize child abusers means that we reinforce the myths that enable abuse to happen. That extreme minority of sexual predators relies on the fact that most people believe the myths about abuse and not the facts. And those that have already abused a child rely on those myths to ensure that they will not face the consequences for their actions. Those myths mean that abusers can walk free, and that the child will never tell. Breaking those myths is what will help prevent sexual abuse.

An Attraction To Children

Some people automatically equate an attraction to children (children of any age) with pedophilia. Some people also automatically equate pedophilia with child sexual abuse. Neither of these associations are completely accurate. While someone may have occasional attractions to children, that would not automatically necessitate a pedophilia diagnosis according to the DSM-5 (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder, Fifth Edition). One can find pedophilic disorder, or pedophilia, on page 697 (PDF page # 729). There are three diagnostic criteria for pedophilia: Recurrent, sexually arousing fantasies, or urges, or behaviors involving prepubescent children; The person with the disorder has acted upon them or they find the fantasies or urges to cause marked distress or interpersonal difficulty; The person with the disorder is at least 16 years old and is at least 5 years older than the prepubescent child. There is also a note not to include someone in late adolescence in a sexual relationship with a 12-13 year old. That is just the criteria for pedophilic disorder.

There are other tidbits of useful information in the DSM-5, like the fact that pedophilia is treated as a different concept from pedophilic disorder, or the fact that a diagnosis in adolescence can be problematic due to the difficulty in determining what is curiosity and what is worthy of a diagnosis (thus the criteria of being 16 and 5 years older). They discuss the fact that pedophilic disorder can wax or wane with or without treatment due to differences in the distress of the person, social impairment, or likelihood to be sexual with a child, but that while the distress and social impairment might change, the sexual attraction to children (pedophilia) does not. In other words, pedophilia and its relatives, or the sexual attraction, functions as a sexual orientation that cannot be changed, cured, or treated.

In other words, pedophilia is a very specific thing that must meet very specific criteria to qualify as pedophilic disorder. It is possible to have the attractions and fantasies involving children without having the urge to act upon them. It is possible to be attracted to a child that is in the midst of puberty and not fit the diagnostic criteria for pedophilia, because the child they are attracted to is not prepubescent. It is possible to be attracted to a particular age group of children without having distress or interpersonal difficulties and thus not fit the diagnostic criteria for a disorder.

In short, it is possible to have an attraction to children and have it not be worthy of the label "disorder". Having a disorder means that treatment and support are suggested to help manage the disorder and make the disorder less impactful. Having a disorder does not mean that someone is "damaged goods" or in any way deficient.

Medically And In Psychology

Medically and in psychology, pedophilia is a narrow and specific ongoing attraction to prepubescent children while hebephilia is a narrow and specific attraction to pubescent children and ephebophilia is a narrow and specific attraction to post-pubescent children. Popular usage of these terms, particularly pedophilia and pedophile, are not accurate to the understanding of doctors, psychologists, and psychiatrists who specialize in paraphilias, which is a catch-all term for the variety of sexual disorders people can have. As a researcher will tell you, there is no clear line on which sorts of sexual interests warrant a diagnosable disorder and which are just unusual. Paraphilia, like anything within mental health subjects, is a vast subject with a lot of debate over concepts, how those concepts are labeled, and how those labels can bring unnecessary weight to the concept they are meant to describe.

For example, pedophilia brings a different response than saying "having an ongoing sexual attraction to children who have not hit puberty", just as "child rapist" and "sex offender" have different connotations and arouse different feelings. That is why most academics prefer to use the term paraphilia rather than the more common "sexual perversion" or "sexual deviance" that would be more recognizable. While I am not a researcher, I think there is a lot of merit to choosing terms and labels that both accurately describe the concept they attempt to illustrate. However, there does come a point at which certain labels that, while they may be more accurate, are just too much for the average person to comprehend or process. For example, trying to get everyone to use the more technically accurate "child sexual exploitation material" rather than "child pornography" is just something that will not catch on except in academia.

With all of those discussions aside, I think it is safe to conclude that when certain conditions are met, an attraction to prepubescent children meets the criteria for pedophilia and the person with the condition can be known as a pedophile. Such a person would have the disorder of pedophilia.

Disorder Or Not?

A rather valid point is made about disorders: It is a stigmatizing and heavy word depending on who is using it and how, and who is hearing it and in what context. There is no universal understanding of what a disorder is (though, to that point, there is no universal understanding of most common words, and context, as always, plays a heavy role on how words are meant, perceived, and received), but I think we can generally say that a mental health disorder is something that warrants support and care so that someone with a disorder can live a life that is not as impacted by the disorder. Maybe this is just my perception, but I think that having a disorder is not a reflection of our choice to have it or not, but what someone with a disorder chooses to do about having it.

Words are always limited because of how they are perceived, and it is just not possible to be 100% accurate to the concept a word is meant to communicate. I think "disorder" is the word we have to describe a mental condition that causes interpersonal or personal difficulty and distress without automatically being negatively stigmatizing. There are some terms that will just never catch on in popular usage. While some people can waste time discussing what terms are more technically accurate and why, and what words best fit the concepts attempting to be communicated, I think those are discussions that will fly over the average person's head and bore most audiences. The trick in advocacy is coming up with the right words to use in the right order so that the wrong message is not conveyed, and so that an accurate picture is painted. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to do that in very few words.

With all of that said, pedophilia and its relatives, in general, should be considered a disorder in the vast majority of cases. Whether admitted by the person with the attraction or not, having such a stigmatized disorder automatically results in distress if one is aware of the stigma with which it is viewed by the majority of the world's population. While it is possible to have the attraction without having interpersonal difficulty or distress that would make it a disorder, those cases are likely rare because of the current climate and general attitude towards such an attraction, though the disorder seems to stem not from the attraction of itself, but the societal attitude and response to it and the internalized stigmas and beliefs that cause those difficulties.

Regarding the distinction between an orientation and a disorder, the DSM-5 states: "However, if they report an absence of feelings of guilt,shame, or anxiety about these impulses and are not functionally limited by their paraphilic impulses (according to self-report, objective assessment, or both), and their self-reported and legally recorded histories indicate that they have never acted on their impulses, then these individuals have a pedophilic sexual orientation but not pedophilic disorder."

Primary Prevention Tie-In

If you have followed this blog for any length of time, you know I harp on the fact that child sexual abuse is not often perpetrated by people with attractions to children, and that people with attractions to children do not often sexually abuse children. This distinction is important because it serves to educate people on the reality of who sexually abuses children and the factors that lead them to engaging in behaviors that have serious effects on children. Without knowing who abuses children and why, child sexual abuse cannot be prevented.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

What Is A Sexual Predator?

We have all heard it: The sexual predator molested a 5-year-old girl at a bus stop. The sexual predator is in a civil commitment program. Predatory offender registration. Guard your kids against sexual predators. How many times do you use a word before it starts to lose its meaning and its impact?

Varying Meanings

The trouble with the term "sexual predator" is that it means different things to different people. To law enforcement, it means one thing. To a therapist, it means something different. To the average person, it means anyone who has committed or is at risk for committing a sex crime. Just like the words "sociopath" or "psychopath", there is no universal understanding of what the word means.

My Definition

I have long hated words that appear to describe people as what they do for several reasons: Such descriptors are inaccurate, bigoted, dehumanize people, and can easily lead people into thinking that every person fitting the term, does whatever the description indicates and only that behavior. "Child molester" seems to indicate that the people it describes do nothing but molest children. Yet that even sounds ridiculous, right? I have just as much of a problem with the term "sex offender" or even the vague "child abuser". It does get tiring to say "someone who sexually abused a child" or "someone who was a victim of child sexual abuse", but those terms are much better at ending the myth that people are defined by their behavior.

However, a sexual predator is someone who continuously goes after people for sex, and seeks out victims to assert control over. Someone who keeps a sex slave for 21 years would certainly fit the definition of what I think a sexual predator is. Essentially, I would define sexual predator as someone who has numerous sexual crimes against a specific profile of people (multiple victims fitting a generally specific description) and feels little to no remorse or empathy for their actions and their impact, likely but not necessarily, this lack of empathy is due to an antisocial personality disorder.

Mental Illness Plays A Role

Antisocial personality disorder, commonly understood as psychopathy or sociopathy, essentially describes what I just defined: "Antisocial personality disorder, or dissocial personality disorder (also known as psychopathy or sociopathy) is a personality disorder, characterized by a pervasive pattern of disregard for, or violation of, the rights of others. An impoverished moral sense or conscience is often apparent, as well as a history of crime, legal problems, and/or impulsive and aggressive behavior."

Extremely Rare

According to this source, this disorder affects about 1% of the population. We know that about .27% of the US population are sexual offenders from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Obviously, if antisocial personality disorder is so rare in the general population and half are treated (this source again), and if 88% of sex offenders do not reoffend (see recidivism study and article links on right in desktop view), then it can be estimated that about 12% or less of sex offenders have an antisocial personality disorder. In other words, less than .0324% of the population are sexual predators with an antisocial personality disorder.

In other words, sexual predators are extremely rare, not only among sex offenders as a whole, but in society as a whole. Treating all sex offenders as if they are sexual predators not only puts the offenders themselves at increased risk of mental health issues that heighten their risk factors, it also distracts the public from the vast majority of people who do commit sexual offenses: Ordinary, everyday people who are struggling in life. Many researchers have long said that people commit sex offenses when they are at their most desperate. That was certainly true for me. You would not have ever been able to tell, except that my friends and family knew I was struggling and knew I did not have many friends. They knew something was wrong.

No Profile For A Child Molester

The cold, hard, shocking reality that I reiterate over and over again is that there is no profile for a child molester. There is no profile for who sexually abuses a child. I say it. Stop It Now says it. ATSA says it. The best you, I, or anyone else can do is to pay close attention to how people behave, and to not be afraid to ask questions. Ask people how they are doing, if they need help. Be concerned for your fellow man. Primary prevention starts with being able to help people struggling with mental health issues, of any kind. Desperate people do desperate things. Get rid of the desperation...

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

For Critics: Why I Discuss Some Topics

Topics I Discuss

If you have been around my blog, you know I talk about some pretty difficult and heavy topics. You know that I discuss what pedophilia is and is not, and I even discuss the idea that not all sexual interactions involving children are harmful. I have talked about pedophilia as a sexual orientation, why pedophiles deserve respect, and how attitudes towards this subject do not help. So... why do I discuss these things? Why do I wade into these incredibly difficult topics?

What I Will Never Say

Children are developing human beings. It is likely that the most challenging idea that I bring up is the idea that there can be sexual interactions involving children that do not always involve harm to the child (between children and other peers, between children and older children, or even between children and adults). I will never say that these interactions should be encouraged. Some of these interactions are a natural part of development and are completely situational. Some of them are indeed abusive. It is the child who gets to make that call. Some of these situations get very muddy and complex. There is no clear-cut answer to every single situation. That is why this blog uses a therapeuticdefinition of child sexual abuse: To account for the fact that some interactions do not cause harm, and to advocate the idea that a child has a right to how they feel, to their body, and to good mental health.

Why do I bring that up? Logic and critical thinking are increasingly becoming a value, both in adults and in younger people. If I stated that every single interaction was morally wrong, I would be ignoring logic and critical thinking. I would sound ridiculous to people who are capable of rational thought.

I will never say that child sex should be embraced, or that it is a good idea for an adult to initiate anything sexual with a child. And yes, the lines between adult and child can be complex, muddy, and complicated. Yes, there are relationships that occur between adults and children that are beneficial for both people and valuable to both people. But the reality of the matter is, with many of these situations, there is no guarantee or protection against abuse or against harm. For that reason, I will never say that sexual interactions between adults and children should be pursued. There are simply too many situations to paint all of them with a wide brush, but there are vastly too many situations that are harmful for any rational person to say that sexual interactions involving children should be encouraged or pursued.

What I Do Say

I suppose by now I have dug myself a neat little hole? No. Unless these topics are discussed, openly, rationally, civilly, and without alarm, child sexual abuse can never be prevented before it happens. Education is the key to primary prevention, and even to secondary and tertiary prevention. Trying to get everyone to believe that every single sexual interaction involving children is evil is simply unrealistic at best. Even major prevention programs, such as Stop It Now, acknowledge that some sexual behavior and questions are normal for specific ages.

Healthy sexuality is a very valuable and integral part of preventing child sexual abuse before it happens. Unless a child knows they are safe discussing a variety of subjects, they will never talk about the extremely difficult things like what to do if they are experience something new with their sexuality, like an attraction to children. They will never talk about having been abused or disclose abuse. They have to have a safe environment, and the only way they will have that is by discussing things.

Child sexual abuse is an epidemic that needs to be addressed, and prevention efforts mandate logic and rational discussion. Because it is an issue that is so harmful, we have to ensure that the policies are effective and based on fact, not on hype and fear. Legislating an issue has to be done with care. The entire point of this blog is to bring reason and facts to these discussions. If you would attack me for that, well, you are an interesting fellow.

Put Simply:
1.      Do I have an ulterior motive to make child sex more acceptable?
a.      Absolutely not. Find me one quote, in context, where I say that. Go on, search the blog. I think you will find that I directly argue against child sex in one post.
2.      Am I trying to normalize pedophilia?
a.      Pedophilia only exists in a very small minority of the population. It will never be normal. See response to question one.
3.      Do I think that age of consent should be changed?
a.      I do not get involved in age of consent conversations. So I am indifferent towards the topic. It does not matter to me. There are flaws to having a set age of consent, and there are flaws to not having a set age of consent. It is not an issue that will ever be resolved for me, so I leave it alone. It would be like discussing why the sky is blue, or why water is composed of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom.
4.      Do I think that people should sympathize with pedophiles?
a.      Define "pedophiles". If you mean people who have abused children, stop using the word pedophiles and minimizing child sexual abuse. If you mean people attracted to children, then no, I do not want you to sympathize. I want you to empathize with them and try to put yourself in their shoes. They did not choose their attraction to children. 
5.      Am I just a pedophile who wants people to accept that I like kids?
a.      See response to questions 1-3. Yes, I am sexually attracted to children. My age of attraction is around 7-19, with some attraction towards my own age. I cannot change that attraction, and all I can do is accept that I have these attractions. I am committed to never acting on my attractions, because I believe the gargantuan potential for harm vastly outweighs any chance of a minute benefit there may be to acting on those attractions. And seeing as I cannot change it, I would prefer that people would accept that fact.
6.      So I DO want people to accept I like kids?
a.      Yes, I do. I cannot change it. You cannot change it. There is no magic pill to make my attractions go away. All I can do is educate about the subject and ask people to open their minds and try to understand. I understand that is difficult. Not only do I have a sex drive primarily aimed at children, I fight that attraction every single day. If you want to condemn me for accepting that I have attractions to children, then I feel sorry for you.
7.      Why discuss pedophiles, pedophilia, and minor attraction?
a.      Sit down and grab a cup of coffee. Then read these posts: Herehere, and here. The fact is, most child molesters are not pedophiles, and mostpedophiles are not child molesters. Sharing those facts should not automatically make me a monster, and shame on you if you doubt the veracity of my claims just because they do not fit with what you believe about the subject. Facts are not true because you believe them, they are true because they are facts and are supported by research and experts.

Wrapping Up

For related information about why many arguments leveled at pedophiles and advocates like me do not work, please see these two posts. Put simply, I am not going to change my content because it makes people uncomfortable. Changing your beliefs is always difficult, but it makes you a better person if you are able to try to see other points of view besides your own. Will you give me a chance to show you the facts on these issues? Or will you bury your head because it is uncomfortable to talk about? Burying difficult issues is what enables abuse.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Tips For Educators

Your Role

Your role, no matter what you are told, in preventing and responding to child sexual abuse is huge. This is not because you can be a child's hero, this is because you are with the children in your circle every single day. You see how they behave, how they emote, and how their family dynamics work. You have a window into a child's life. Because of that, you can spot things that other people may not see. You may spot things that strike you as odd, uncomfortable, even gut-churning, both from adults and from other children. Imagine a big flashing sign next to you: "Trust Your Gut!"

Write these things down. Keep a journal detailing what child was involved, what struck you, how it felt, and what you thought. Sometimes, they are nothing. But if you are seeing things and reacting a certain way multiple times, each time you could say to yourself "It is just my imagination, it's nothing." Dismiss it only after nothing else happens. If you are really organized, you could organize your journal by date, by person, or even by emotion. The important thing is that you write down what you see that strikes you as odd.

Warning Signs

Know the warning signs of an at-risk adult. Know the warning signs in an at-risk child or teenager. Know the difference between sexually appropriate behavior and inappropriate behavior. If you think a child may have been sexually abused, or abused in general, ask the child questions. Some examples:

  • Has anyone ever touched your penis/vagina/butt (use the specific body part, not the catch-all "private parts")?
  • Has anyone ever hit you?
Other questions may be situational, but the point is that you have the right to ask the child questions to know that the child is safe. You are likely a mandated reporter, which means you need to report known or suspected abuse to the appropriate authorities. You should know about the existence of child advocacy centers. In my experience, they should be the first place that you turn to. They know how to ask a child the proper questions and how to react to their statements so that the child is not further traumatized by questioning if abuse has occurred. For more information, please see my post about reporting allegations of abuse

How You Can Help

The reality is, you can help in a number of ways. You can see things that are out of the ordinary in individual children, and you can see things that raise red flags. Many times people dismiss these red flags, thinking that they are nothing. That is why it is great to write them down. Even if you spot nothing more than the first red flag, it is easier to remember that the first one happened if you write it down.

You can also see students struggling with something. It does not matter what they are struggling with, what matters is that you can spot them struggling. That means you can have the courage to ask them if something is wrong. Sometimes it is something totally benign, but other times they might be seriously struggling with something someone said to them, like bullying or verbal abuse. They might be struggling with controlling their anger, or have anxiety or fear around certain things. They may be LGBTQ or struggling with their sexuality. They may be noticing they are attracted to children, if they are old enough.

It is inherent in most struggles to believe several lies about the struggle. They usually believe they are the only ones struggling with it, or that no one will care. You can counter those lies. The beginning of a mental health spiral, and the formation of maladaptive beliefs that can lead to such a spiral, often starts in childhood. You cannot get into your students' heads to see what they are thinking. However, you can see their behavior and you can see some of how they think by what they say and do. You can raise concerns with parents and with other teachers.

A Word About Sexuality

Sexuality is an important part of development. You may have the opportunity to teach sexual health classes. Keeping in mind that you may be limited by what you can or cannot say, you should read over Stop It Now's explanation for why discussing sexuality is an important part of preventing child sexual abuse. What I will tell you is that if you do not create a safe environment in which a child can share uncomfortable topics or struggles, they will never tell you important information, like the fact that they were sexually abused, felt uncomfortable with someone's behavior, or even that they are struggling with their sexuality and how it is developing. You have the opportunity to create that kind of a safe space. Even if a child raises an issue you cannot answer, you can tell the child that you cannot answer it but can direct them to someone who can. You can be the child's biggest resource.

Realistically Speaking...

Obviously, you are a human being. Even if you wanted to try and do everything, there only so much you can do. You have many concerns that seem to be far more pressing. Grading homework, parent-teacher conferences, all of the minutiae of day-to-day interactions and ensuring at the end of the day you still have a job to put food on the table... you have a lot going on just being a teacher. The most important tool you have is your gut. If something feels off, if something feels odd, write it down. Talk about it with other teachers. Stop It Now has a hotline you can call or you can just click "Get Immediate Help" on their main page. You may feel helpless to affect certain situations, but you are not helpless.

Resources Available

This blog has a number of resources available to you. I discuss a great deal of information and prevention tips on this blog. Trying to condense them all into one post just is not feasible. As I explain in my "Tips For Parents", you need to know how to navigate your options and think critically about what you are reading. Let this blog be your friend. You can search this blog on the right-hand side right above my bio, or you can find essential posts on the top of the page. I also link to many other sites discussion the issues, where to find more information, where to get help, and other resources. If none of that answers your question, leave me a comment on one of my posts, and I will reply to it as soon as I am able (typically within two days. The main reason I put this blog together was to have as many reliable resources as I can in one location.

Why Come Here?

So why should you read my blog? Why get your resource here? Why should you trust my word over what you have been told? You tell me. Why should you? Am I trustworthy? Do I cite sources for what I say? Do I paint things with an overly wide brush to be popular, or do I challenge your ideas and present ideas that you think could be repulsive? If all I am doing here is giving you information, then I have failed, dear educator. I see my job as the same as yours: To get people thinking. I want you to think about the issues surrounding child sexual abuse, because if you are not thinking about them, you cannot fight child sexual abuse. My content is limited. Your capacity for reading my content is limited. In the words of one of my favorite teachers of all time, "Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!"

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Using Math To Determine Pedophiles Who Do And Do Not Abuse

Estimating just how many pedophiles there are in the world is just that: An estimate. As with most mental health issues, it is extremely difficult to determine how many people have any given condition with exact numbers. However, we do have other numbers about sexual abuse that can allow us to come up with a general idea of the frequency in which pedophiles sexually abuse children. As a reminder, a pedophile is someone with pedophilia, and this site will always differentiate between someone who has sexually abused a child and someone who has attractions to them.

However, coming up with this general idea means a fair amount of math and a fair amount of statistics that must be reviewed. Current estimates put the world’s population at 7.4 billion people[1]. Globally, this divides to 1.01 males to 1 female, and 73.6% of the population is 15 years old or older[2]. Remember that pedophilia is generally not diagnosed in teens younger than 16, though it is possible[3]. If we plug those numbers, we come up with 37.22% of the world’s population who are males, aged 15 or older.

Our current estimates from the best researcher of pedophilia in the field, Michael Seto, indicate that pedophilia affects less than 5% of the male population and less than 4% of the female population[4]. The DSM-V indicates that the highest prevalence for pedophilia in male population is 3-5%[5]. As such, about 1.12-1.86% of the world’s population are pedophiles.

These numbers are a nice rough estimate for the number of pedophiles in the world, and considering that less women have pedophilia than men, and that the clear majority of sexual abusers are men, we can use these numbers with a fair amount of certainty.

Thus far, we have not yet discussed sex offenders and sexual abusers. According to the National Center for Missing And Exploited Children, .262% of the population are sex offenders[6]. We know that juveniles are the victims of approximately 66% of sex offenses[7], which means we can estimate that 66% of sex offenders have crimes against juveniles, or .17292% of the population. Compared to our conservative and liberal estimates of the number of pedophiles, this is not a significant number at first glance.
We also know from the research that roughly a third of sexual abusers are pedophilic[8], which means that we would not expect all .17292% of the population that commit sex crimes against juveniles to be pedophilic. We would only expect .05764% of the population to be pedophilic child sexual offenders. So, we can take the number of people with sex crimes who are pedophilic, and compare it to the total number of people with pedophilia to come up with a rough percentage of how many pedophiles we would currently expect to molest children.

Conservatively, this means that around 5.2% of pedophiles molest children, and liberally, 3% of pedophiles molest children, without accounting for underreporting. Some estimates put the reporting rate around 40%, which means a realistic factor to multiply by would be around 1.6-1.8. In other words, after accounting for underreporting, you see that 4.8-9.36% of pedophiles molest children. Conversely, this means that 90.64-96.2% of pedophiles do not molest children, even after underreporting is accounted for. 

While these numbers are obviously an illustrative estimate, it is reasonable to conclude from this exercise that the vast majority of the world’s pedophiles do not molest children, and it is more common for a pedophile to not molest children.

[1] Wikipedia: World Population
[2] Wikipedia: World Population: Global Demographics
[3] Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, p. 699 "Development and Course", first paragraph
[4] Pedophilia And Sexual Offending Against Children: Theory, Assessment And Intervention, Seto, M. (2008), ISBN: 1-4338-0114-0, p. 6
[5] Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, p. 698 “Prevalence”
[6] Map of Registered Sex Offenders in the United States, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
[7] Characteristics of Crimes Against Juveniles, Finkelhor and Shattuck, 2012, p. 2

Tips For Parents

Lots To Read

There is a lot of information and misinformation on the subject of child sexual abuse and how it can be prevented. How do you sort through it? Do you rely on the sites that link sources? Rely on their status as a nonprofit organization? Do you think critically about where you are getting your information, and what information they are presenting? You are a parent, you likely do not have the time.

This is the part where I am supposed to say something like, "Well, let me save you the trouble! Read my blog! Donate money!" Nope. Sorry, I get no money from this. In fact, this blog was created in the middle of April, 2015, and has been a work in progress since. I did not ask people for the resources that are on this blog, I hunted them down myself. I do not ask you to believe me because I am an expert, but because I care about your child's rights. They have a right to their body and they have a right to an abuse-free childhood. Between that and all of the citations and resources I link, I hope you will believe me and use the resources on this blog.

Critical Thinking 101

If you do not know what the source was, its truthfulness is dubious. That is one of the main ideas behind critical thinking, yes? But what happens when the linked source does not support the statement it claims to? What happens when the person linking it has an agenda? Is the information really accurate? Can you identify when this is happening?

Here are two numbers that simply do not exist in statistics on any issue: 0% and 100%. Do I need a source to make that statement? Always and never do not exist. That is accepted logical fact, correct? What about child sexual abuse? What if I told you that pedophiles always abuse children, that child molesters always groom their victims, or that child sexual abuse is always preventable? What if I told you that sex offenders are responsible for all sexual abuse? What if I told you that child molesters are always pedophiles?

Would you believe me?

I hope not.

Illusion Of Invincibility

Everyone likes the idea that _____ could never happen to them. Car crashes, lightning strikes, plane crashes, abused, raped, shot... you fill in the blank. Just because it is statistically rare does not mean it will not affect you. One in six boys, one in four girls. That is how many children are sexually abused by the time they turn eighteen. And according to estimates, around 2% of adolescent and adult men develop pedophilia. Your child could be sexually abused, and you could have a child with an attraction to younger children. The only way you will ever know if they are is if they talk to you about it. You need to be prepared in case this issue does affect you.

Simple Facts

You will see many statistics and fact sheets on the internet. Just plugging in "child sexual abuse statistics" brings up a number of articles. There are some organizations that do great work. In my experience, The Association For The Treatment Of Sexual Abusers (ATSA) and Stop It Now are great organizations. While they have great information, they do not have lists of statistics. Some organizations put a greater emphasis on research, reputation, and fact. ATSA and Stop It Now are two such organizations. Other organizations put more emphasis on victims, fear, and emotion. Two such organizations are Parents For Megan's Law and National Sex Offender. Some organizations are about money or furthering the name of their own organization. Darkness To Light is one such organization. All of them can be valuable, but if you have to wade through references to determine if their information is accurate, then the organization becomes dishonest. That is why I link directly to a study, and why I have a list of most of the studies I have used on the side of this page.

The bottom line is that child sexual abuse is not a simple issue, nor are there simple facts. Even determining whether or not something was abusive can be very complex. Believe it or not, there are people that most of us would call victims that did not feel traumatized by a sexual act that was done to them as a child by an adult. That is why I only have a handful of lists and tip sheets.The rest of it is writing like this.

So... Now What?

The United States, the UK, Canada, and several other nations have created sex offender registries. Registries are tools intended to help law enforcement identify abusers and rapists in instances of stranger assault or abuse. The registries are not generally public except for specific circumstances, in which case it is usually called "community notification". The only problem with these registries is that 95% of new sex crimes are committed not by registered sex offenders, but first-time offenders (people completely new to the criminal justice system). Another problem is that 90-95% of child sexual abuse is perpetrated not by strangers, but by those known to the victim. Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN) reports that about 4/5ths of rape victims know their abusers. In short, stranger assault and abuse is rare.

In other words, sex offender laws and registries are not protecting your children. In fact, the statistics indicate that your child is at more risk from being injured in a car accident than being abducted or abused by a stranger. Believe it or not, the biggest risk to your children - for any kind of abuse - is from you and the people you already know and trust with your children. There is no profile for a typical child molester. There are warning signs, there are education programs for children that aim to increase reporting when abuse happens, and there are ways you can help your child be less of a target for abuse. There are also coping strategies that can be taught to adults so that they can manage their risky emotions and mental health issues. After all, the biggest cause of child sexual abuse is not pedophilia, but unmanaged mental health issues (see point number 4 on page 4).

Sad Reality

The sad reality of the programs currently in use that aim to educate children is that they are failing to keep children safe. If a child is being told at school that when someone touches their penis or vagina to tell a trusted adult, but an adult they trust is the one touching them, who does the child tell? For that matter, does the child tell? I have discussed before how educating children fails to prevent child sexual abuse. Abuse prevention starts with education: You, the parent, have to know the facts and practice healthy habits at home. Habits like not keeping secrets, using the proper name for genitalia, letting children have boundaries around touch and other things.

Bottom Line

The bottom line about child sexual abuse is that there are a great many "prevention" programs that teach people how to spot a possibly abused child, how to react to a child when they say they were abused, and how to tell law enforcement. These "prevention" tactics rely on the abuse to have occurred in order to be effective. Stopping abuse when it is occurring is valuable, but it would be more valuable to stop it before it happens. There are primary prevention methods. The first step to preventing child sexual abuse before it happens is by knowing the facts, and the second step is discussing it with people. This article cannot even be considered a first step. Reading the FAQ, myths, and fact sheet at the top of this page are a first step. This article is just the thought that hopefully leads you to taking that first step towards reading up on this subject.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

This Blog Is Brought To You By...

Some crazy troll accused me of "scamming" people with my blog. He also accused me of, what was it? "...tricking people into donating to [my] scam". While I generally let trolls be trolls and let them peacefully reside under bridges, I want to make a few points.

This blog. Do you see any ads on it? You better not, because I specifically set it up to not have any, and if you are seeing ads on this site, please shoot me a comment and tell me immediately and I will send the proper inquiries. Do you see a donation button? Then you are not on my blog and may be a victim of a phishing scam. Leave this page at once, and go to

I set this blog up for several reasons:

  • Journaling
    • I enjoy writing down my thoughts. It helps me think better, and stay sane.
  • Resources
    • I want to make sure that other people have access to the resources I had no idea existed.
    • I want to make sure that pedophiles know they are not alone, and that they have places to go to for help if they need it.
  • Advocating
    • Primary prevention is not nearly as represented by advocacy/prevention organizations as tertiary prevention, which relies on children to be abused before it becomes prevention.
    • Many people are misinformed or uneducated about who/what causes child sexual abuse.
    • Many people are unwilling to discuss or think about these subjects. 
  • Discussion
    • I suppose this falls in line with other stuff, but I want to generate conversation on these topics. 
    • I want to be controversial.
    • If people are talking about it, thinking about it, challenging myths and stereotypes, and thinking critically, then more people know the facts about abuse and can respond accordingly.
For a very brief period of time, I thought about forming a non-profit or starting some kind of organization. I rejected that idea for several reasons:
  • Money
    • Money is not the point of this, and I was afraid that starting anything more formal than me, this blog, and Twitter would change my motivations for doing this.
    • I do not want your money. 
    • Seriously, keep your money.
    • Better yet, go buy leaflets and copy-paste some of the information about child sexual abuse, and go hand it to people.
    • Donate to Stop It Now if you want to throw money at the problem of child sexual abuse. 
  • Time
    • My time is limited, and there is only so much I can do.
    • If I spend too much time on all this, I will lose whatever sanity I have left.
  • Accuracy
    • I suppose this is a control issue, but I want to make sure that the facts and ideas I support are based in reality, not the hype-driven madness that has landed the United States and other countries with laws that waste time and money being ineffective at keeping children safe.
  • Safety
    • I need to ensure that my efforts do not negatively affect my victim or his family, or impact my own family and friends.
    • I need to ensure that I remain safe from crazy people that might conveniently take stuff I say out of context.
  • Critical Thinking
    • I am not an expert and I will not have you treating me like one. 
    • I cite sources for facts, generally speaking.
    • I am not going to tell you what to think (except I just did).
If there was a point in there somewhere, I am not quite sure what it was. But I hope that answered some of your questions and concerns about this blog and why it exists. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Mental Illnesses

Mental Illness? What Is That?

By now, you have likely heard the term mental illness before. However, do you know what that is to someone with a mental illness? Mental illness means many different things to many different people and goes by many different names. Some of the more generous terms might be disabled, challenged, or even touched. Some of the more derogatory would include retarded, screw missing, a card short, fucked in the head, and other choice terms. No matter what term you might choose to use, you can pretty much always assume that you will sound insulting to someone with mental illness. Imagine that you are missing a leg and getting called pegleg all the time. It would not be pleasant, no matter how accurate the descriptor is.

Mental illness to me is not any of those things. I am not disabled, challenged, touched, retarded, have a card or screw missing, nor am I fucked in the head. I am not perverted, a freak, slow, or anything else you can use. Those are labels. Labels are stigmatizing and breed misunderstanding. It establishes 'us' versus 'them'. Above all, a mental illness is something that presents certain challenges to people. Every single illness affects everyone differently also. Some illnesses, like depression or anxiety, generally affect people in a similar way, while others, like autism, affect people very differently depending on the person. Just because you know one person with any one illness does not mean you know what everyone with that illness is like.

Mental illness is also not a choice. Someone does not choose to be obsessive or compulsive about their behavior, they do not choose to be anxious about not washing their hands or whatever the obsession is. In some, the illness is a result of neural or chemical issues within the brain. In some, the illness is acute and brought about by a significant life event. In some, the illness has a genetic factor (like trisomy 21, or Down's Syndrome). Regardless of the cause of the illness, it is not anyone's choice to struggle in that area.

Mental Illness And Crime

There has been a lot in the news lately about how jails and prisons are mainly home to mentally ill people. The implication seems to be (and I have not read many of these stories, I am just going to general tone of the limited amount I have read) that we should be keeping the mentally ill who commit crimes out of jail, out of prison. In other words, that we should pity them and get them treatment, not keep them in jail or prison (yes, they are separate terms: jail is where you go when you are awaiting sentencing or awaiting a bed at a prison, whereas a prison is generally where you go to complete a sentence longer than a year, depending on location).

Crime is crime. It is breaking the law. There must be a punishment or sentence when a crime has been committed. That is what the criminal justice system is based upon. However, we do have a habit of locking up people who need treatment and rehabilitation right alongside those who justly deserve a long time-out from society. The difficulty with the courts is separating out who these two groups of people are, and it is not readily apparent. The courts also have limited resources, and a jury or prosecutor may not always understand the nuances of mental health.

However, just because some people, even the majority, who are in jail are mentally ill does not mean they represent most mentally ill people. Most who have a mental illness do not commit a crime, and mental illness is not an excuse for committing one.

How Does That Apply To Primary Prevention?

The million-dollar question: Why does any of that matter? Child sexual abuse victims, by the above description, means having a mental illness. Abuse affects everyone differently. There are no victims that experience abuse the same way. Some people are impacted greatly, others less so. Some people are able to move past it or manage it, some are not. But even "child sex abuse victim" is a label that is stigmatizing because there are very real myths that people believe about it.

Many believe victims are not telling the truth, or making it up for their own gain. And given how some victims act (especially on certain internet conversation platforms like forums, Twitter, news comments, etc), there is reason for those myths. I touched on this in a previous post.

I have also touched on how a pedophile is someone with pedophilia, an attraction to young children, and not someone who has sexually abused a child. I have discussed the stigma surrounding pedophilia many times. This same stigma is what drives people with other mental illnesses to attempt to hide them and hide from them. I did that myself, both from my aspergers and from my pedophilia. But just because someone tries to hide from their mental illness does not mean it stops having effect.

Interference And Distress

Typically in the DSM (the huge handbook that psychologists use to diagnose mental illness), something is considered a disorder if it causes someone significant distress or if it interferes with someone's life. In other words, someone can have some of the other typical diagnostic criteria for a disorder, but if it does not cause distress or interference, it will usually not be diagnosed as a mental illness.

That brings me to my next point: Pedophilia, hebephilia, and ephebophilia. All of them are considered disorders. All three of them involve sexual attraction to youth: Pedophiles to children not yet at puberty, hebephiles to children who are in the midst of puberty, and ephebophiles to children just after they finish puberty (ages 0-11ish, 11ish-14ish, and 15ish-19ish respectively (not everyone hits or finishes puberty at the same age, so the age is less important)). All of them being disorders does not mean that an ongoing attraction to children of those ages is always a disorder. It does not mean that those with it are mentally ill. It is entirely possible to have the attraction that typifies the disorder, but to not internalize the stigma associated with these disorders and so not cause interference and distress.

In plain language, just because someone has an attraction to minors does not mean that they have a mental disorder. Just because someone has a sexual attraction (not just to children, but any attraction) does not mean they will have sex with those they are attracted to. Just because someone has a sexual attraction does not mean that they chose that attraction.

Okay, Again, How Does That Apply To Primary Prevention?

As I have said before, most pedophiles- or paraphiles if you prefer- do not sexually abuse children. I have also said that most people who sexually abuse children do not do so out of a primary attraction to children. The reasons that people, both adults and adolescents, sexually abuse children are many and complex. The best resource you can find to support that statement in a nutshell can be found here on pages four and five. They have a fairly long list, comprised of (but not limited to) loneliness, sexual arousal, anger, antisocial attitudes, desire for control, hypersexuality, sexual victimization backgrounds, abusive home lives, and a combination of these and many other factors.

The sexual abuse of children is not a "problem with pedophiles", nor with pedophilia. It is a problem with people who have mental health issues who are, for whatever reason, not managing those mental health problems. Essentially, the number one way child sexual abuse and other forms of abuse can be treated is by recognizing and treating these mental health issues. There are a number of challenges to this:

  1. Myths
    1. People believe wrong information or lies about abuse, or about abuse victims.
  2. Stigma
    1. People look down on, bully, refuse to discuss, and otherwise treat the issues as hot potatoes to never talk about except in a derogatory sense.
  3. Fear
    1. People are afraid of mental illness and topics surrounding it, and do not wish to discuss it.
  4. Anger
    1. People get angry on these topics because they have been negatively affected by some form of mental illness. 
  5. Pedohysteria
    1. People get very uncomfortable when children and sex are in the same conversation. This forms a taboo and a fear of discussing these topics, and outright panic whenever the conversation is brought up in any form. 
  6. Revenge
    1. People assume that pedophile means child abuser, and wish revenge and retribution on anyone whom they think has sexually abused a child.
A Mentally Ill Person's Perspective On Mental Illness

I am not defined by my pedophilia. I am not defined by my asperger's. It is not who or what I am. They are a small part of me, and they do affect me. I cannot change some of the challenges that both of them bring me. I will always have a little bit more difficulty communicating with people because I have asperger's. I will always have an attraction to children. But I can make choices to minimize the impact they have on my life.

Neither of these disorders makes me sick, perverted, dirty, deranged, psychotic, stupid, dumb, or any less a human being than you are. They do present unique challenges that many, even most other people do not face or will ever have to deal with personally.

In some ways, they are actually a benefit to me. They give me the perspective to be able to write articles like this. They give me the ability to see things differently. My asperger's affords me the ability to not emote on an issue, but to process it rationally. This comes in handy when discussing difficult topics, such as the topics surrounding primary prevention. It gives me the ability to switch off my emotions for a brief period of time, reflect rationally on something, and then process how I feel about it. My pedophilia gives me the ability to relate to others with pedophilia, and understand a very broad range of diverse sexualities. It gives me a great deal of empathy, even for people who hate me simply for being attracted to children. I do not "understand" how a heterosexual man finds an adult woman attractive any more than you likely "understand" how I can find children attractive, and knowing that means I can empathize with you.

In some ways, they are a huge drawback. Having a romantic relationship with another adult becomes challenging because there will be times where I find children more attractive than I find them, and I have to sort through how that feels and how that functions. I can never be completely happy with any partner, because I am attracted not only to young boys, not only to men my age and younger, but I am also somewhat attracted to young girls and women my age and younger. I am bisexual, on top of having pedophilia. Having asperger's means that miscommunicating with people is all the more frustrating, because I have no idea if it is the result of my asperger's or just a normal misunderstanding (whatever normal is, anyways). It means that I sometimes switch off my emotions when I need to process them, or switch them on when I need to be rational. Having asperger's means I am just not interested in the things I am not interested in, it is between 0-5% interest, or 95-100% interest, no middle ground.

Wrapping It Up With A Nice Bow

Mental illness, in case you could not tell by the length of this post, is a vastly complex, frustrating, difficult, and even dangerous subject. In one sense, it is like discussing racism as a white person: No matter what you say, you have the potential to offend someone to the point of irrational anger. In another, it is like trying to figure out a 5,000 piece puzzle: Challenging, but immensely rewarding when you find a piece that fits with another piece.

Approaching the topic of mental illness is much like approaching a minefield: It has to be done carefully. But if you learn what you need to learn and know how to navigate the topic, you can learn to cross that minefield safely. The only way you can learn is by opening your mouth and risk sounding rude or ignorant, and being willing to listen to other's stories. Reading this lengthy post was one step towards that understanding. Go take another.