(While both men and women can be pedophiles I will use the word “he” in my comments, as it is easier.)
Anyone who is a pedophile knows that it’s not a choice. Like homosexuals, pedophiles are “hard wired” into their sexual orientation. I met one six-year-old who, naively, told me that he had an erection every time he saw a baby having its diaper changed. He hadn’t made a choice, it was how he was constructed. I had my first arousal at about the age of nine when reading a cowboy comic book where a young girl was kidnapped and slung unconscious over a horse. Later I realized that was my warning as to how my brain/body had been wired.
Now I don’t want to draw the parallel with homosexuality too far. Hopefully, homosexual sexual relationships are between emotionally and physically mature individuals who are freely consenting. This can’t happen in a pedophile relationship. If a pedophile gives in to his desires then that individual is, rightly, called a child molester. Pedophilia cannot include a consenting relationship between equals. Therefore, in a pedophiles relationship with his “partner”, the adult is always exploiting the child.
There are pedophiles who become molesters and claim that they are not hurting the child with whom they have sex. This is really self-justification. Studies show that practically every child who has had sex under the age of thirteen claims that it was unwillingly.
To please a powerful adult – such as a priest or a teacher – a child may agree without being physically forced. To please someone who they love and respect – such as a father, aunt or older sibling – a child may engage in a sexual relationship with mixed emotions. But the child is not mature enough, either mentally or emotionally, to be able to make a safe and informed decision.
Therefore anyone who realizes that he is a pedophile has to make the tough decision to not act upon the misfortune that has been visited on him. To give in to it is to become a molester. Even without a concern for the legal dangers the pedophile has a moral and social responsibility to restrain those “hard wired” desires.
But, because it is hard wired, the pedophile shouldn’t feel guilt about something that is out of his control. He needs to admit it and then look to his actions, for those actions are in his control.
The pedophile needs to be very cautious. It’s probably wisest to avoid careers that put you in contact with children on a regular basis. A fair number of pedophiles who decide to become molesters take jobs as teachers, scout leaders, or Sunday School teachers. Avoiding those jobs limits your access to temptation.
Having said that I think it possible that a pedophile who can control his urges can be good with children because he emotionally cares about them. But it’s a risk.
Of course the greatest number of child molestations occur in the home and are of an incestuous nature. Even a casual visit to pornographic websites shows the popularity of incest. The pedophile parent can have both the greatest temptation and the greatest opportunity to develop a sexual relationship with his children. Therefore he must remain continually aware of his actions and never allow fatherly affection to be replaced by sexual attraction.
Does this mean that the pedophile is condemned to continual frustration? Probably, the answer is yes. There are some displacement activities, such as masturbating with a daydream. However the physical gratification, that Nature has programmed into the pedophile, has to be denied.
There are, doubtless, people who say that writing for, or reading the stories, in this site is wrong. I disagree; if it helps release some of the tension that comes from our natures and, therefore, protects children, it serves a useful purpose and is, of itself, perfectly harmless. As pedophilia is inherent people don’t become pedophiles from reading fantasy stories.
As pedophilia is a “natural” occurrence how should it be treated? Not long ago homosexuality was both a crime and considered a mental illness to be treated by psychiatry. (I belief the Mormons still suffer from this delusion.) Now, thank heavens, except for the most ignorant and bigoted, people realize that homosexuality is not a choice but is inherent in the individual.
Today we treat alcoholism, compulsive gambling and sex addiction as tendencies that are genetically programmed. If an alcoholic cannot control his drinking society provides support groups and clinics that treat the causes.
This is not the case for the pedophile. As pedophilia is treated as something wicked and disgusting it’s not possible for someone to admit his tendencies and find support similar to AA.
I don’t want to appear to suggest that child molesters should be excused for their actions. No more do I think that a drunk who drives should be excused for killing a pedestrian or another driver. In both cases the individual is aware of the implications of his act and needs to be strong enough to refuse to delude himself as to the consequences of his acts.
However if society would admit that pedophilia is a fact and not a choice of perverted minds it would be easier to deal with the issues arising in a more rational and effective way.
Part Two – Maturity and the Age of Consent
In part one I was addressing more the issue of sexual relations with young children. However, because our society is so mixed up about sex, pedophilia is popularly considered to cover all sexual relations between a person over the legal age of consent with another person who is below the legal age of consent. Sometimes the questionable logic of this is underlined by some eighteen-year-old being accused of “statutory rape” of his seventeen-year-old girlfriend.
It’s interesting to note that can only happen in twelve of the U.S. States as thirty States have sixteen as the age of consent and the other nine have chosen seventeen as the age.
The age of consent seems to be based more on social beliefs than on science. Before the 1920’s there were States that had an age of consent below fourteen. A study in the early 1900’s of fifty countries, mainly in Europe and America, found the age of consent to range between twelve and sixteen.
There’s the famous scene in Romeo and Juliet where Juliet’s mother is upset with her daughter because she’s nearly fourteen and not married. (In contrast with the mother who had given birth to Juliet before reaching fourteen.)
We have stretched childhood out far longer than it has been throughout the rest of history. In many societies the age of puberty was seen as being the sign of maturity. In Christian countries is seemed that there was a distinction between the age of consent and the age of consummation of a marriage; the consummation often not taking place before puberty.
We know that a number of middle and high school students are sexually active. Is it bad for them to have a partner who is more experienced and is mature enough to know how to care for and protect his partner? If a sexually active fourteen-year-old girl sleeps with a fifteen-year-old boy is that more natural, or desirable, than if she chooses a twenty-five or forty-five old man?
It might not be IF the girl does the choosing but the risk of a naïve fourteen-year-old being manipulated by an older adult is great.
I have to admit that I don’t see any clarity in this issue. In addition there are the issues of mental and emotional maturity that need to be factored into the equation.
A person may be physically mature and even over the age of consent but not be emotionally or mentally mature for a sexual relationship. It’s known that the male brain develops more slowly than the female – usually up to twenty-five years of age. Which could suggest that a sixteen-year-old girl might be better off to have a relationship with a thirty-year-old man who is, hopefully, mature by that time rather than a boy her own age.
I’d be happy to see what other people think about these issues.