Thursday, January 19, 2012

When is a Paedophile NOT a Paedophile?

We watch with growing horror and mounting anger as individual after individual and ring after ring of paedophiles is exposed, arrested and charged for their deviant crimes.   Sadly, the growth of the Internet has made it all too easy for these sick, sick people to connect, to exchange photographs, and (worst of all perhaps) to prey on young children.

Alan Smith

In a recent report, stated that single mothers in Melbourne (Australia) who have joined online dating services have been targeted by paedophiles.  The report says that mothers have been 'groomed' by paedophiles in order to get at their children.  The offenders "took a long time to lull the mum into a false sense of safety before they attacked their real target".

''They can trawl through thousands of photos and know where they live and their age and then target them with a false name or identity – a photo of your children may spark that interest.’’
" ..our advice is to lock down your profile.'' 

Allen and George
How frightening and worrying is that?  Not only do these predators target children, but they also target the parent!  Is a paedophile a chameleon, one who can change his/her colours to suit the surroundings? I would say yes, most definitely.  For many months I have been reading and researching articles, papers, studies etc., on paedophilia, with the objective of trying to understand whether we can identify these people - and what makes them behave in such an aberrant and abhorrent way.
 As to the first objective, I believe the answer is no, we can't identify them until they are caught.  And the second?  Apparently nobody yet knows why these predators are attracted to children.
Interesting facts I have found are that:
To be a paedophile is not, as such, a crime.  There is, therefore, no common law or statutory definition in Australia of the word, or of the related word "paedophilia". Paedophile offences are framed in terms of rape, sexual assault, indecency, making or possessing child pornography and so forth. (Parliament of Australia Joint Committee on the Australian Crime Commission) 2003

Dawber - true evil
This is also the case in most countries,  as far as I can determine, that paedopilia is a clinical definition rather than a criminal definition.  To be a paedophile is not a crime, it is only when the person acts on their fantasies that it becomes a crime.  From Mayo Clinic Proceedings website:
Pedophilia is a clinical diagnosis usually made by a psychiatrist or psychologist. It is not a criminal or legal term, such as forcible sexual offense, which is a legal term often used in criminal statistics. The FBI's National Incident-Based Reporting System's (NIBRS) definition of forcible sexual offenses includes any sexual act directed against another person forcibly and/or against that person's will or not forcibly or against the person's will in which the injured party is incapable of giving consent. 
.......  a pedophile is an individual who fantasizes about, is sexually aroused by, or experiences sexual urges toward prepubescent children (generally less than 13 years) for a period of at least 6 months. Pedophiles are either severely distressed by these sexual urges, experience interpersonal difficulties because of them, or act on them. Pedophiles usually come to medical or legal attention by committing an act against a child because most do not find their sexual fantasies distressing or ego-dystonic (repugnant) enough to voluntarily seek treatment.
There are all sorts of criteria to be met before someone can be 'diagnosed' as a paedophile, and one of the scariest things I have read is that paedophiles "usually report that their attraction to children begins around the time of their puberty or adolescence, but this sexual attraction to children can also develop later in life".   And these older people offend at a greater rate than other sexual predators.

We teach our children 'stranger danger' and yet studies carried out and statistics from USA show that over a quarter of all sexual offenders assaulted members of their family.  HALF of the offenses against children younger than 6 were committed by a family member.  Again, 42% of offenses against children aged 6 to 11 were committed by a family member, and approximately a quarter of the acts against children aged 12 to 17 years.
A study  found that 68% of “child molesters” had molested a family member;  almost a third had molested a stepchild, a foster child, or an adopted child;  19% had molested 1 or more of their biological children; 18% had molested a niece or nephew;  and 5% had molested a grandchild. 

How on earth are we to protect our kids from people that they know, and trust?  For incest, in non-parental and non-violent incidences of paedophilia, the child knows the offender an estimated 60% to 70% of the time. Paedophiles often intentionally try to put themselves where they can meet children and have the opportunity to interact with children without supervision, for example:  babysitting, doing volunteer work,  hobbies, or coaching sports. Paedophiles usually obtain access to children through , friendship, and behavior designed to gain the trust of the child and parent.

So it isn't stranger danger only that we need to warn our children about, it is danger from someone close to them, and often to us.  My next blog will be about how you can protect your children from the sexual predator, paedophile, rock spider - whatever name you want to give them.  And don't panic, or become paranoid about it all - the odds against any of our children becoming victims are really quite slim.  It is just better to be warned, be aware, and keep our children safe.

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