6.07.2011

Pedophilia -- Criminal Behavior or Mental Disorder

The eye of a Stranger
By Scott Hall
     When does “she’s too cute for words.” Become a worry? When should we question the odd way that Mr. Unknown Person exhibits affection toward children in a playground?  Should we guard our children or expose them to the harsh realities of the world of the predatory digital and non digital criminal? We all raise our eyebrows when we see on the news about some person doing harm to a child, no matter if we knew that child or not.  Amber alerts, abduction stories and mystified citizens who seek insight behind the motives, all deserve an answer.

     Paraphilia, defined as : (noun)  A type of mental disorder characterized by a preference for or obsession with unusual sexual practices, as pedophilia, sadomasochism, or exhibitionism.  We will concentrate on pedophilia.  This type of mental disorder is generally characterized by intense fantasies and sexual urges and behaviors for victims whose ages are those of pre-teen and early teens, and the perpetrator must be no younger than 16 and a minimum of 5 years older than the victim.
     The disorder Pedophilia, itself may sound sinister in nature, but in fact unless the person affected by the disease actually acts upon those desires, they have committed no crime and the treatment of the person can begin with psychotherapy.  The therapy may help to alleviate those urges by helping the person uncover and comprehend deeper issues such as any child hood abuses, hardships, drugs or peer influences that may be a part in why they think the way they do.
     Anyone, man or woman, whom commits a sexual act with a minor child can be charged with felony statutory rape, as is the case in most states, children whom are minors under a certain age, have no “consensual” rights as they are considered to be too young to make appropriate consensual decisions at a young age.  The child molester and the pedophile both cannot be discerned from other citizens.  They can be men or women, though typically there are more men than women incarcerated for those types of crimes.  They can function normally in society and may go unnoticed for extended periods of time, unless their victim speaks. 
     One of the greatest shields that the World Wide Web provides is total anonyminity.  We can type in a false name, false birthdates, post some cute picture we captured from someone else’s photo album, and become someone other than who we really are.  Suddenly, Joe Predator, age 44, lonely or hiding their urges from his or her spouse, becomes Tommy Too Cool, age Pre teen to teen, then, over a few weeks, gets an address or a risqué picture from the victim, and once they act on the urge to follow through, they become a felon when caught and convicted.
     We owe it to our own peace of mind to protect our children from more than just the phrase we grew up hearing, “Don’t get into cars or take candy from strangers.”  Pedophiles exist in the real world as well as in our digital world wide web.  Pedophilia can be treated, not cured.  Once a pedophile acts upon the urges they have, they are classified as a Sexual Offender, and are subject to a variety of prosecutions.  Citizens have a firewall for real life attackers. Diligent parenting, community involvements and awareness, and not being afraid of looking over your child’s shoulder or setting parameters over the computers, that, we all have inundated in our lives.
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