Pedophilia is an abnormal sexual attraction to a child. Pedophilia is a combination of two Greek words, the first is “pais”, which means child and the second is “philia”, which means love or friendship. Pedophilia was first used by an Austro-German psychiatrist Dr. Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing. Dr. Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing’s course of study involved criminology, the medical perspectives of hypnosis, and deviant sexual behavior of men and women. Dr Krafft-Ebing tried to show that sexually deviant thoughts, like those expressed in pedophilia, were not of a criminal nature, but rather an illness, that should receive medical treatment. There is a push to classify all pedophilia as a mental illness.
The DSM-IV, which is a mental health “dictionary,” lists the following diagnostic criteria for pedophilia. Over a period of at least 6 months, recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving sexual activity with a prepubescent child or children (age 13 years or younger). The person has acted on these urges, or the sexual urges or fantasies cause marked distress or interpersonal difficulty. The person is at least age 16 years and at least 5 years older than the child or children involved.
It is important to note, that an individual in late adolescence involved in a continuing sexual relationship with a 12- or 13-year-old is not included in this criteria. In addition when pedophiles are being classified to include specifically what their sexual attraction includes. Such as, Sexually Attracted to Males, Sexually Attracted to Females, Sexually Attracted to Both, and to specify if limited to incest. Next the DSM-IV asks about exclusive type which means attracted only to children or nonexclusive type.
One fear is if pedophilia is treated only as mental “illness” pedophiles that do have sexual meetings with children will suddenly end all personal accountability for their actions. When diagnosed with a mental illness, he or she will often choose to “blame” the illness for their actions, rather than hold him or herself accountable. The good news, pedophiles might be more agreeable to try treatment, and families might be less inclined to “hide” the dirty skeleton in the closet if they knew there was help for the pedophile.
Where now most cases if a pedophile is “caught in the act” the authorities would automatically become involved and the pedophile most likely arrested. If classified as a mental illness it might mean victims or survivors would also be able to receive help in a timelier fashion. This would be a good thing, rather than victims forced not to tell and keep a horrible dark secret locked deep inside for decades.
In his publication Psychopathic Sexualis, also known as The Psychopathology of Sex in 1886 Dr. Krafft-Ebing focused on four categories of sexual deviance including paradoxia, sexual desire at the wrong time of life, such as childhood or old age, anesthesia, insufficient desire, hyperesthesia, excessive desire, paraesthesia, sexual desire for the wrong person or object. This included a focus on subjects like sado-masochism, homosexuality, pedophilia, and sexual perversity.
Pedophiles are usually men, but not always. They are attracted to one or often attracted to both sexes. Some pedophiles have a difficult time relating to adults of the opposite sex. This is especially true when the abuser of a male victim is another male. Even with counseling or treatment the recidivism rate is highest among pedophiles drawn to males versus girls.
It is important to realize that since I started writing for BellaOnline’s Missing and Exploited Children’s Website that I have come to realize not all pedophiles will act on their fantasies. A pedophile may believe he can continue to live and work in an atmosphere around children and never act on his wishes. This is a dangerous assumption for the pedophile and the children around him. The struggle a pedophile faces in his daily life can be difficult in this situation. Life is hard when you harbor a secret as great as one of being a pedophile.
In addition, not all people who abuse children are pedophiles. Have I confused you? Consider some abusers may in fact choose to target a child because a child is the weakest link. There may be no sexual attraction to the child. Remember that sexual abuse like rape is not about the sex itself but about the control and power, it gives the abuser.
Consider there are different types of pedophiles. There are the pedophiles who are situational molesters. When they find themselves in the right situation, they cannot pass up the opportunity. They may be incapable of having a relationship with another adult and find that children are an outlet after feeling frustrated or humiliating themselves in an adult relationship.
The hardcore molester will begin molesting as they reached their sexual peak at puberty. Most likely, they were a victim of abuse. A common situation that leads to abuse is the frustrated and stressed out person who turns to a child after an adult relationship fails. The first time abusing a child is a fluke, yet they quickly learn that children in their twisted mind-set make a good substitute for an adult when an adult is not available. This is a person that may work near children every day, thus making their opportunity one of convenience.
Pedophilia destroys lives and should never be ignored. Reporting incidents of pedophilia are the only way to stop the cycle. Please help protect our children.