The Primary Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse

Pedophilia, Pedophilic Disorder, And Stigma

Pedophilia: Attraction To A Body Type

The easiest way to understand pedophilia is as a sexual or romantic attraction to a particular body type: That of a prepubescent child. This is not to say that people with pedophilia are attracted to all children, because there are many people with pedophilia who are only attracted to certain ages, genders, and personalities. Romantic and emotional attraction are also factors to how a pedophile experiences their attractions. However, some, when they understand a prepubescent child, think of 12-13 years old as being the “cutoff” for prepubescence when the reality is, everyone hits puberty at different specific ages.

Pedophilia is typically not a problem by itself. The problem comes when someone begins hating themselves for having this attraction, or internalizes the severe societal hatred of people with pedophilia. When these factors come into play, it can become very difficult to live day-to-day life and can lead to a variety of different issues, such as depression, self-esteem issues, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts

Pedophilic Disorder: Internalized Hate And Stigma

What is the first thing anyone with pedophilia takes in when they are first discovering their attractions? They start paying attention to the messages they hear in the culture and society they live in. What are these messages? Do these messages help?

Unfortunately in most cases, these messages are typically along the lines of, “Look at this disgusting pervert pedophile that brutally raped this infant! All pedophiles are monsters!” There are no mainstream popular examples of pedophiles that do not harm children. As a result, these messages are internalized, of course “pedophilic disorder” is a result, people whose daily lives are influenced by self-hatred, negativity, and fear.

While currently experts consider acting on paraphilic attractions with non-consenting parties or parties incapable of giving consent to be disordered, the stigma that then becomes distruptive to the daily lives of minor attracted people is also considered pedophilic disorder. The ethics involved in labeling internalized shame and stigma a disorder are beyond the scope of this site, though it should be noted that if the external shame and stigma directed towards minor attracted people were lessened or did not exist, pedophilic disorder would not be as readily diagnoseable.

Stigma Interferes With Sex Abuse Prevention

The most typical concern that the average individual or community has towards minor attracted people is that they may be a risk to harm children, and that these unknown persons present a hidden danger to their loved ones. While this concern is a natural result of not knowing something, it should spur people towards understanding this population, not towards stigmatizing and hating people for fear of the unknown. This population largely has no interest in sexually harming children. Treating people who have not harmed children as if they have sexually abused is unethical, as is treating people as bombs that might go off at any moment.

We largely know the risk factors and motivations that lead to the sexual abuse of children, and these causes of sexual abuse are not addressed by hating populations that do not abuse children. They are addressed by providing resources and education to communities and people so that they can thrive, not feel shamed for being slightly more different than someone else.