Forgiving paedophiles

I caught a fascinating programme on Radio Four last night which spoke to a man who had sexually abused his daughter and the wife who took him back into the family fold despite this.
The couple spoke so reasonably, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was all a bit, well, mad. But is this rational or moral of me?
The synopsis is roughly this. The man was aware of finding young girls sexually attractive, but just avoided situations in which he might be tempted to act on it. But then he did act on his desires with his eight-year-old daughter. We’re not told what the abuse was – just that it was “inappropriate touching”.
When the girl told the mother, after she had expressed some concern, the mother asked the girl what she wanted, which was for daddy to say sorry and not do it again. The mother asked if she wanted daddy to go away and the girl was adamant that she did not.
So the mother’s actions after this were all premised on the desire to respect her daughter’s wishes and keep the family together.
Of course, the social services saw it as a child protection and criminal matter, not an internal family problem, and the guy was convicted. But several years later, and after treatment, he’s back in the family house, and apparently everybody is happy.
But still, this seemed warped. Why?
Well, first of all I wonder why the mother still wanted to live as man and wife with a man who had sexually touched her daughter. That’s odd enough.
Then I was worried about the totally future-looking consequentialist nature of the couple’s thinking. It was as though what had happened in the past was in a sense irrelevant: all that mattered was putting things right in the future.
But this seems odd to me, and it perhaps reflects some unease I have over exclusively consequence-based thinking. The fact is that what happened cannot be just erased or cancelled out by fixing the future. We can’t just be amnesiacs about past wrong doings, can we? The world changed when the father touched his daughter, and it seems naive to think it could put back together again in something like its previous form.
Also, perhaps it is true that in this case it all worked out. But what a risk, surely? We have to act on what we can rationally expect is likely to happen, not on what is logically possible. Sure, I can imagine that this story is how they told it, but the mother was perhaps still foolish to hope it would turn out like this. (An extreme example of moral luck, perhaps.) Indeed, it worked out after the father was taken away, imprisoned and so on. What she had actually wanted was for him not to go away at all. So maybe it worked out despite the mother’s extremely forgiving attitude, not because of it.
To be honest, I’m not sure what to think, except that the couple’s rationales sound eerily suspect to me. My prejudice? Listen if you can, and let me know what you think, even if you can’t.

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63 Comments.

  1. Maybe the wife had been reading Richard Dawkins?:

    “All three of the boarding schools I attended employed teachers whose affection for small boys overstepped the bounds of propriety. That was reprehensible. Nevertheless if, fifty years on, they had been hounded by vigilantes or lawyers as no better than child murderers, I should have felt obliged to come to their defence, even as the victim of one of them (an embarrassing but otherwise harmless experience).” (The God Delusion, p 316.)

  2. Hi Julian,

    Haven’t listened to the broadcast as yet, but just a quick question – would you find it as troubling if instead of inappropriately touching his daughter because he found her sexually attractive, he gave her a fat lip because he was suffering from a schizophrenic delusion? If his wife accepted him back after treatment would that still be odd?

    Cheers.

  3. I can understand forgiveness for many things, but pedophilia is not one of them. As with all pedophiles, I have one, very simple, reaction: hang him by the you-know-whats, and don’t bother with the bit about taking him down once his sentence is finished. Once a sexual predator, always a sexual predator.

    “Mom” might be forgiving, but society isn’t. I read of many cases where an accused Minister (or other church worker) is “supported” by their congregation. The predator gets the sympathy, the victim is ignored. (Really!) I recently had a discussion that allegedly included the members of a Lubbock, Texas, Baptist Church about an accused pedophile in their ranks. Even when challenged about the victim, the standard line was “Brother —- is a decent Christian”. Little to no mention of the crimes he’s accused of, no mention of the victim (I don’t recall a single congregant standing up for the victim), and so on. Just the point that the guy was a decent Christian.

    The reason I mention this is to point out that pedophiles are very capable of generating sympathy for themselves. They are expert liars. It’s a heck of a lot easier to say “he couldn’t have” rather than face up to the consequences and do the right thing – they’ll protest their innocence, and they’ll feign being hurt and confused, etc about the whole thing, and so on.

    Recent legislation in many US States has made sexual crimes of this sort earn that never-ending punishment. Registration lists, severe restrictions on behavior, in some cases the predator isn’t even released from prison and so on; all of it sounds good to me. Even when accused, there’s a different standard of privacy: Texas, for instance, bars the accused from being around children.

    The pedophile and rapist are different to other criminals. While many criminals make no effort to rehabilitate, the sexual ones simply can’t. Recidivism among sexual predators is fairly high; I don’t have the numbers, but I do understand it’s almost certain they’ll commit their crimes, again. They have a choice on whether to act on their despicable fantasies, but once they do: society can, will and should punish them without end.

    The mother and the child are not thinking clearly; they want it all to “go away”, put it behind them and they’ve both developed a mechanism for that. While I can’t speak for them, I know many victims build, in their minds, big oak doors, with lots of heavy iron hinges, straps, bolts and locks. What they tend to neglect is the building of a wall to accommodate the door.

    The mother and child aren’t thinking rationally; they just want the whole thing to not have happened. No victim of such a crime ever does think rationally; the fear and horror are simply too great. By reverting to some pre-event dynamic, they hope it won’t happen again. It might not to the girl, but that thing, that predator, still poses a danger to other children. Mom and child will even pretend to trust him. But that would be a huge mistake; it’s impossible to trust someone capable of lying and manipulating to that degree.

    They should go parachuting with him. And forget to pack his parachute.

    Carolyn Ann

  4. May I suggest that it’s rational for the wife take the man back now that the daughter isn’t a child anymore?

  5. A tough one and unfortunately I haven’t heard the original interview or your comments.

    I think a number of questions need to be distinguished here, e.g. (a) was she acting in the best interests of the daughter (b) how can she possibly remain married to this man (c) more generally, is it possible/right to forgive paedophiles.

    For (a) maybe she was sensible in asking the daughter what she wanted, although what an 8 year old wants and what’s good for him/her may not be the same. I would seek outside help although of course here that brings further consequences. One point here, I read a newspaper report on reoffence rates for paedophiles a while ago and as I recall they’re pretty low – lower than for other crimes. Sorry I don’t have a reference for that.

    As to (b) the reasons people get and remain married are many and weird. Let’s not go there.

    And for (c), paedophilia is a selfish and evil act, but I see no reason why any standard of ethical justice or religious mercy should be higher for this than for other forms of seriously bad behaviour. Given how widespread it is, could our extreme reaction to it be neurotic? This society had a strange attitude to children – it sentimentalises them, sexualises them and fears them. But maybe that’s coming from something deeper than society.

    Finally, lots of us have felt / would admit to feeling the desire to act violently or even murderously towards each other. Is it easier to condemn (and harder to forgive) a paedophile than a murderer, because the former is acting from an urge that we don’t feel? And if it is easier to condemn a paedophile, should we be slower to do it, and quicker to forgive?

  6. “Would you find it as troubling if instead of inappropriately touching his daughter because he found her sexually attractive, he gave her a fat lip because he was suffering from a schizophrenic delusion?”

    Interesting question! I think what’s interesting about it is that schizophrenia is a recognised, treatable condition and paedophiliac desire is … what? It seems to me (and maybe I’m wrong, I’m not an expert) that a person’s basic sexual desires are not things that can really be controlled. If that’s right, then on the one hand we should not demonise peadophiles for having their desires, only for acting on them; but then we should also perhaps be less willing to allow them back into families, since they can’t ever be “cured” only controlled. And because sexual preferences are so intimately linked with identity (discuss) that’s why I find it hard to understand why someone would let an offender back into the family once this side of their identity was made manifest.
    The Dawkins point: well, I think it’s true that it is possible to overstate the harms of any kinds of adult-child sexual contact, as though “inappropriate touching” and rape were basically the same. But at the same time, erring on the side of caution is hardly stupid in these circumstances. Sometimes strong taboos are needed, even if the consequence of having them is that we over-react to some acts..

  7. “It seems to me (and maybe I’m wrong, I’m not an expert) that a person’s basic sexual desires are not things that can really be controlled”

    Well ‘chemical castration’ is an option and has certain analogies with anti-psychotics for schizophrenia.

  8. I couldn’t disagree more with the idea that societal reaction to pedophiles is neurotic. The damage caused by a punch on the nose is temporary. The damage caused by a pedophile is invisible, and lasts for decades. You learn to cope with it, you can never be ‘cured’, like a broken nose can.

    Don’t minimize the damage done by a pedophile in any quest to figure out the morality of punishing and/or forgiving them. The damage can lead to suicide: is that okay? Drug and alcohol abuse are prominent with victims of pedophilia. Basically, you can’t consider the morality of forgiving a pedophile in a vacuum: you have to consider the consequences of his act.

    I don’t think you can over-react with pedophilia, or rape. Pedophiles, even with “inappropriate touching” rob the victim of their innocence. They will never feel totally safe – ever again. Even when they deny their feelings accepting that monster back into their lives, they won’t be the same person.

    Lock ’em up. And never let ’em out. And I consider that to be a little too mild. (Chemical castration has a dubious record; it’s not entirely successful.)

    Carolyn Ann

  9. For whatever reason, a culture usually needs something which is “beyond the pale,” an activity through which one looses any standing as a human, you know, to make the title more valuable.

    Pedophiles and Serial Killers (not simple murderers) fit this description. What I find most morally disturbing is the idea of an action for which there can be no forgiveness. Being able to view an 8 year old sexually constitutes a genetic aberration and molesting someone too young to give consent is certainly criminal, but when does the humanity of the criminal flee from him as it most certainly does in the eyes of society?

    I think forgiveness benefits the victim far more than the one being forgiven, and it’s for that reason I don’t like crimes making someone infinitely hate-able. I think you can over-react with pedophilia if your resentment prevents you from moving on as a victim or friend of a victim. Retribution may work for the legal system, but for the individual it can gravely aggravate one’s ability to cope.

    Nevertheless, I find this issue fascinating, “can you forgive a child molester,” is the sort of harsh and uncomfortable ethical question I’d raise if I ever taught ethics.

  10. As the future is an optional heavy thing I would have thought the mother would bet on a recidivist possibility. Not so much the daughter but the world is full of little girls.

    The world is also filled with other men, Mom ought to have placed her bets accordingly. Right now Dad may be in a park with a pocket full of lollipops.

    Sometimes it’s one strike and you’re out.

  11. There are many cases in the news (and not all cases
    are reported) where the mother protects her mate, knowing that he is abusing his daughter or step-daughter or son/step-son. The misplaced loyalty that occurs among couples can not be underestimated. Economic motives also play a part if the male is the chief bread-winner in the family.
    A small child may be pressured by both parents to say what pleases both of them: I love daddy.
    As Carolyn Ann and others have pointed out, child abuse tends to create a life-long trauma, as does domestic violence against children. I can still recall blow by blow certain beatings received 50 years ago. Forgiveness is a another matter. We can certainly forgive those who do harm to us and perhaps should forgive them, but an 8 year old girl is in no position to forgive a father who abuses her. Perhaps when she is 38, she will be able to forgive him, forgiveness being a process that comes from within, from understanding the weakness of the person who did one harm.

  12. It’s worth pointing out that many abused children want to stay with abusive parents, even when the abuse is very, very extreme. A child’s love is that strong…and that’s one of the reasons the abuse is so repulsive. So I think the girl’s preferences say very little about whether the reunion made sense. The mother’s willingness to forgive strikes me as bizarre. But…trying to be charitable (and I didn’t listen to the interview) maybe she saw him as a a “new person” after his incarceration and treatment. Unfortunately, with the high recidivism rate for pedophiles, that probably wasn’t true.

  13. No, it’s not “love”. It’s a need to survive, and if the means to survive is perceived to be horrible, well, the child will put up with it.

    As my therapist said: children adapt and accommodate in order to survive.

    Obviously there are exceptions; whenever people are involved, there always are. But, in general, children will do what they perceive is needed to keep themselves alive. It’s biology, pure and simple.

    I’m sure the girl’s feelings on the issue are really confused; when she’s 38 (as amos says), she might be able to figure things out. Forgiveness is merely one part of the equation.

    (Me? I’ve never forgiven, and I never will)

    Carolyn Ann

  14. I feel I should explain.

    I was in therapy for a couple of years, and one of the things I found out is that my survival “mechanisms” took over after the trauma of being raped. (I was about 8, the first time.) I didn’t say anything because to do so was to challenge my ability to survive. Don’t forget: in the case of sexual trauma, like so many other traumas, rational thought is not especially noticeable. In fact, it’s nowhere to be seen.

    So, although it was the neighbor, my perception was that I couldn’t tell. (I could go into why, but it’s still a “little” painful.)

    It took until I was 42 to realize that the rape wasn’t my fault; I hadn’t done anything to bring that couple into my life. That’s merely a small sign of the confusion, the self-loathing and the utter despair you feel. It’s not just a loss of innocence, it’s the loss of a childhood. All of a sudden you know something about humanity that no child should know. And that’s not “sentimentalising” them, it’s simply the theft of a childhood.

    I really don’t think it possible to “forgive” the pedophile without considering the consequences for their victims. No, we should not be slow to condemn these horrors; we should be careful in our accusation, but quick to condemn and imprison these thieves of innocence.

    I’d answer the question about sexual stuff and identity, but right now I can’t.

    Please, do not take this as my precluding conversation; I’d rather not say anything than promote such a thought. It is a subject I, unfortunately, have some experience with and what I’ve written here about my experiences was astonishingly difficult to write. In your thinking, and conversation, please don’t neglect the victims of pedophiles, or of any sexual predator. And please don’t assume that normal reactions and considerations apply to the situation of the victims, or the girl’s mother.

    I’ll not say anything more on this subject. It’s just too damn painful. Too many things I’d rather not remember.

    Carolyn Ann

    PS But don’t let that ever stop anyone from posing serious questions. After all, the trivial is easy to consider. The worthwhile usually involves some effort, and maybe some bad memories. I discovered in therapy that there is no “quick fix”, and that having the courage to stand up and confront the difficult is as much a lesson as understanding the events themselves. So please, keep posing the difficult, the contentious and the plain ornery. Without those, this blog would simply stagnate. And that would be shame. /CA

  15. I thought I’d read recidivism was relatively low but I stand corrected by this study (on a very quick skim).

    http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2002/11/15729/12633

    A few comments on Carolyn Ann’s points:

    I wasn’t trying to minimise the damage done by paedophiles. I am aware that the victims suffer terrible psychological truama, the extent of which depends on the crime and the personality of the victim. But there is a distinction between rape and inappropriate touching. And some people commit suicide because they have been bullied at school or work or on the estate, or because they’ve been burgled, or deserted by a partner. The seriousness we attach to crimes or bad behaviour (and hence the degree of punishment or condemnation) is calibrated to the seriousness of the consequences to the victim, but that can’t be done at an individual level.

    I can appreciate the anger you must feel as a victim. As a father, if anyone abused my daughter I would be out for blood. But anger justifies bad behaviour as well as good. Lynch mobs are angry. The 9/11 bombers were angry.

    I very much agree with Marcus’ points, and I think the viewpoint put forward by Carolyn that “you can’t over-react with paedophilia” goes against both justice and whatever residuum of Christianity remains in our society. (I’m not a Christian, but let’s not replace it with something worse, eh?) I mean would it be okay to torture paedophiles? Quite a few people wouldn’t have a problem with that.

  16. I’ve been trying to get my head around this issue, and I realize that one (of the many) thing I don’t understand is how sexually molesting a child is clearly worse than beating her. I honestly don’t understand why people attribute virtually infinite evil to sexual molesters but seem to forgive batterers.

  17. For what it’s worth, I sympathise with Doug’s ignorance (it’s like we have to pretend to find the difference clear, for fear of some of that infinite evil rubbing off on us:)

  18. Doug,
    The difference that makes it clearly worse is that there is an association created between sex and violence in the psyche of the assaulted. A battering is just a battering and it is no great loss if an aversion to it ensues. The damage to the capacity to have a sexual relationship, after the destruction of trust that child sexual abuse is, must be an aggravation. Difficulties in relationship is commonly reported after such trauma.

  19. The child batterer is normally in a rage and out of control. You can imagine that, probably. The pedophile is actually taking pleasure at a child’s expense. That’s seems creepier. Then you add the fact that sexuality is “not for children” and the fact that being attracted to them is strange. All very creepy. I’m done thinking about that now. I’m sure Carolyn Ann doesn’t care to analyze either…maybe this is one form of disgust we ought to just “go with.” If you don’t feel it, it’s probably not important (no infinite evil rubbing off), just so long as you take the crime seriously.

  20. I understand the revulsion, Jean, but your comments are anti-philosophy.

  21. Good God! Not at all. I did try to analyze the special revulsion about pedophiles, but there just may be limits to explaining.

    An analogous case: Apparently disgruntled cooks at fast food restaurants sometimes add a wad of spit to the hamburgers. (According to the book Fast Food Nation). Say that I find that disgusting, and you think it’s just definitely bad, but you don’t have that “yuck!” reaction. We agree that it shouldn’t be allowed.

    I can see trying to explain to you why I find it disgusting (and I did try to explain why pedophiles are revolting), but should I go on and on about it? Maybe not, since we do agree that spitting shouldn’t be allowed (like pedophelia shouldn’t be allowed.) The feeling might be something either you have or you don’t, but can’t be 100% explained.

  22. Okay just to try and take your points as they come, Jean, in your previous post you argued that the batterer was not in control and the paedophile was, and that the paedophile was taking pleasure while the batterer was not. I’m not sure of the basis for any of those assertions.

    That sexuality is “not for children” is not a “fact” as you describe it. It’s a value statement most of us would subscribe to, although we might want to ask what it means more precisely.

    You say that being attracted to children is strange. Damaging if acted on yes, but how “strange”? You don’t have to look far into pop culture to think that the cuteness/attractiveness signals that make us want to protect children seem fairly well mixed up with those that make us desire adults. There’s that Britney Spears video for a start.

    “Done thinking about”…”Carolyn doesn’t want to analyse”…”just go with it”. As David Mamet likes to say, if you refuse to think, then this conversation is over.

    On your second post, if I didn’t have the yuck reaction to spitting in burgers why would I think it was definitely bad? Provided their mucus wasn’t carrying any nasty bugs, I might think the nutritional value of the burger had been improved. And isn’t there a tribe that chews food as part of its preparation? Are they “definitely bad”?

    I didn’t really understand your final paragraph. But I think it is important that we think clearly about this. Our judicial system’s treatment of paedophiles should not, on principle, be based on feelings of revulsion. Nor should those feelings stop us from allowing someone who has done the time for a crime the committed from returning to society. And there are some marginal cases, people who are suspected paedophiles but it’s not clear, people who are wrongly accused or convicted, people who have (other) mental problems and did it when they were not in control of their actions. Hold back the mob.

  23. Basis for assertions: reading about batterers and pedophiles. Knowing about adult and child sexuality from books, experience, my own children, etc. Brittany’s post-pubescent–completely different.

    Re: spit. If it doesn’t repulse you, you might still think the spitters can’t be trusted to get their health checks. So you might agree it should be disallowed.

    If you and I agree on the right punishment for pedophiles, we really don’t need to explain our different emotional reactions to each other. If we don’t agree, that’s another matter. Then the question is whether emotions should enter into it. There’s a lot of great literature on emotions and ethics/law, and I don’t have a settled opinion about it.

    Carolyn Ann said it was painful to recall being raped as an 8 year old. Isn’t it really OK to try to be sensitive?

    If you really think it’s important to have a thorough analysis of what’s gross about a man screwing a 5 year old, somebody else is going to have to volunteer. I do find it too gross to ponder for very long. Call me unphilosophical…see if I care!

    If you do, have at it! I said 10 words all of which t you disagreed with. Feel free to take over the analysis! I

  24. Whoops…the last line was blather that I meant to delete.

  25. Nietzsche says somewhere that people need to punish. The need to punish seems to have more to do with the horror that the crime produces than with a consequentialist calculation about the effects of the punishment. Child abuse and child rape are among the crimes that produce most horror. Perhaps that horror could be psychoanalyzed or analyzed in terms of evolutionary psychology, but anyway, that horror is there. It’s not a rational thing and I don’t see why it should be a rational thing.

  26. I agree with Doug and Enigman. There has to be a point where sexual molestation (at the inappropriate touching end of the scale) is not so bad as battering (at the lasting serious physical damage end).

    I see what you mean about creepy and gross, but I think we need to be a bit careful. Some people think that sex between adult consenting males is creepy and gross. Of course there are good reasons why we ignore their intuitions and don’t ignore intuitions about child sex, but at least we have to acknowledge that more than emotional reactions are involved.

    I wonder, in passing, whether mothers of young children are especially likely to have the creepy and gross reaction (more than other people, or perhaps other people except the ones who were unfortunate enough to have personal experience of being sexually molested as a child). The reason I wonder this is my sister, an extremely calm and unemotional person and also a science teacher, talking about whether she could bear going to Gunther von Haagens’ “Bodyworlds” exhibition, and saying that since she had become a mother, the thought of a small child ‘even being a little bit sad’ (I quote from memory) was almost unbearable. (Bodywolds has foetuses in utero).

  27. Jean

    Your assertions are still a long way from proven or self-evident.

    I think the burger metaphor has gone off the rails.

    The reaction to this crime is necessarily emotional so I think we need to analyse it before we can get to the right punishments.

    I’m not forcing Carolyn or anyone to read or contribute to this blog, but while Carolyn’s personal experiences are pertinent to the discussion, I don’t think they should be the final word on the subject.

    As for whether I think it’s necessary to have a thorough analysis, no I don’t want graphic details, I know what’s gross about it, I don’t feel any less horror about it than you (or Pontentilla’s sister), but I think it’s important to think about these issues coolly, and forgiving paedophiles is the subject of the discussion.

    By the way Potentilla made an excellent point in her (?) second paragraph.

  28. I’m going to wade back into this (probably foolishly)…

    I actually think what I originally said (12:10 pm) made a lot of sense…

    Doug and Enigman said they couldn’t see a difference between battering and sexually abusing. I tried to state a difference. This wasn’t supposed to resolve anything about how to punish or whether to forgive.

    What I said, with a little more elaboration– First: battering. As a parent myself, I know that it’s easy to get angry at children. It’s also easy to yell too much and treat them too roughly. Batterers in lots of cases are people like me who have more problems with “anger management.” They usually have more stress in their lives, etc. They are more or less normal persons who have gone haywire. So I can relate to them more or less. (My assumptions are attested in tons of things I’ve read. Try the book Random Family if you want a look at the lives of people who beat their kids.)

    Sexual abusers have very unusual sexual impulses. They are not normal people who have gone haywire. I do think their sexuality is creepy. Though I’ve had to unlearn some emotional reactions over the years, I don’t see a reason to unlearn this one.

    There’s also a difference that’s nicely described in terms of Kant’s notion of treating people as a means. A batterer doesn’t treat the child as a means. She’s just out of control, and really has no goal at all.

    A molester does have a goal–his own pleasure. He does use the child purely as a means.

    As I said, I think both things are bad, and I’m saying nothing about forgiveness or punishment. People who react differently to them are not irrational…that’s all.

  29. Carolyn Ann’s comments remind me that the controversial topics we talk about here may well strike raw nerves, so we should be careful. But also, how good it is that someone can be open with her experience without buying into the kind of “argument from experience and feeling”, by which people make out that because they have personal experience which others don’t, that’s the end of the debate. Thanks, CA.

  30. FWIW, I wasn’t suggesting that you (or I) should try to unlearn that emotional reaction. I was motivated to post by someone above claiming that “a battering is just a battering” which probably sounds more dismissive than it was intended. (And of course some batterings, or at any rate non-sexual physical harm, are inflicted by people who enjoy causing pain, rather than people who are out of control).

    Returning to Julian’s original q, maybe the reason the mother wanted to forgive was the same sort of reason (whatever that might be) that so many battered women return to their batterers time and time again. I don’t understand it at all, but it seems to be the general sort of triumph of hope over experience and inability to learn.

  31. “Doug and Enigman said they couldn’t see a difference between battering and sexually abusing. ”

    Just to be clear, this is what I said: “I honestly don’t understand why people attribute virtually infinite evil to sexual molesters but seem to forgive batterers.”

    I think potentilla put her finger on it right here: “There has to be a point where sexual molestation (at the inappropriate touching end of the scale) is not so bad as battering (at the lasting serious physical damage end).”

  32. The original topic was forgiving the pediaphile – esp. by the parent of the child. It is agreed in the above, I believe, that a) the perpetrator has a non-standard sexual orientation. b) It is controlable – that means he doesn’t abuse children in front of the police station in broad daylight. c) physical abuse is more likely to leave physical damage, sexual abuse more psychological damge – although there is a large overlap. d) this behavior – not the orientation – is the part society has every right to minimize for the protection of its children. This entails certain consequences for the perpetrator which are meant to protect the children.
    e) punishment is not neccessarily a good or effective form of future control – but that is another discussion.

    To forgive means, to me, that one minimizes the effect of the perpetrators past actions on our current relationship to some unspecified degree. Only persons can forgive – society, institutions cannot. When they say they do they are only selectivly “forgetting” by acting as if something never happened the way it did.
    Whether this particular person could be forgiven depends to a large degree on the amount of damage done to the child – and that can only be judged years later. The wife obviously has needs in her personal relationship with this man that allows her to mitigate the damage, whatever she thought it was, done.
    She felt the need to forgive.
    Society needs to control.
    We can and should dicuss – what is forgiveness, what are it’s functions, how does it affect our lives.
    We can also discuss consequences, control, punishment as well as the psychology of child abuse for all the parties involved. Each discussion and its questions arise from the same incident – but are different – and not neccessarily overlapping – aspects of the same abnormal interaction of father and child.
    We can certainly let our emotions inform our rational mind – but emotions are a different brain function than rational thinking and handle the same information source in a completely different way. IMHO philosophy is about the latter, by reflecting, using the former to perhaps judge the importance of the matter to us.
    By that criteria the discussion certainly seems very important.

  33. Another tangent; I’ve been thinking about Julian’s post at 6.50pm. Of course it’s true that the argument from personal experience is not a debate-stopper. But it’s also true that some people know (about themselves) what others can only intuit or introspect (about themselves). That’s sort of what I was trying to say when I mentioned my sister.

    Carolyn Ann is the only person (AFAIK) in this discussion who doesn’t need to guess what he would feel if sexually abused as a child. Those of you who are parents similarly know something that the rest of us don’t. Your reactions might be different to what ours would be, but at least you don’t have to guess about yours.

    The reason this seems to me important is that I doubt we always have very good introspective access to what we will feel about an event before it happens. I, for instance, know what I feel about having a terminal diagnosis, and it’s not what I probably woud have thought it would be before I did. You might know what you would think in the same situation….but you might be wrong.

  34. If we are not going to use purely utilitarian criteria as measured by some kind of happiness meter to run society, we need to prohibit some things, like child molesting, simply because they repel us. That is, some things need to be considered sacred and some things need to be considered profane, taboo, for instance, child molesting, whether or not we can measure if a minor incident of child molesting causes more damage than a violent thrashing. Most of the people who regularly post in this blog are atheists, including myself, and perhaps a vision of the sacred and profane, which has nothing to do with the non-existence of God, is what is often lacking from the discourse of atheists. Perhaps we could “market” atheism more successfully if we had a clear sense of what is sacred (for instance, great works of art, nature, friendship, clarity of thought) and what is profane (child molesting, hate crimes,
    rape, etc.) By the way, for me forgiveness is important. Forgiveness liberates she who forgives from the past, but I have my doubts about forgiveness when personal interests, such as keeping a wage-earner out of jail, may be concerned.

  35. Uwe,
    The topic of forgiveness is the central issue. It’s a two sided thing, one side has to ask for forgiveness and the other has the right to grant or refuse it. To get into the state where forgiveness can be granted requires healing. How that is achieved depends on the resources available to you.

  36. potentilla wrote “I, for instance, know what I feel about having a terminal diagnosis, and it’s not what I probably would have thought it would be before I did.” Thank you for talking openly about it on your blog and elsewhere. I very much hope you’ve still got a good chunk of time.

  37. Sorry for the tardy (I’ve been inbetween places) response, but I should have said that it was the difference ceteris paribus that eluded me. E.g. if Santa hit a child, because the guy playing that role had always enjoyed bullying (for some reason), that hit might cause the child little physical disress but a lot of psychological damage. It seemed to me that if someone tended to hit children (their own or others) too harshly, when he (or she) thought that they were asking for it, then that might cause (whatever its origins) lasting psychological harm to them (and it seems to me that we want to investigate the origins of such behaviour).

  38. The problem with our disgusted and hateful attitude towards paedophilia is that it actually punishes the innocent. There are many adults who are strongly aroused by children or adolescents, but who do not and will not act on their desires. I know this because I am one, and because I have seen many support groups across the internet full of men claiming to keep their paedophilia firmly in the realm of fantasy. Sure, some of those men may be hiding something, but there are thousands of them, and since I know that I am not lying when I say I will never abuse, this gives me reason to trust some of the other men who claim this about themselves.

    So paedophilia is not child abuse, it is sexual attraction to children. Of course it is a motivating reason to abuse children, just as heterosexuality motivates us to try and sleep with the opposite sex. But many hetero- and homosexuals are able to lead celibate lives without being tempted to commit rape. And contrary to popular belief, the same is true of paedophiles. This may be moral luck, but then you could say the same about celibate non-paedophiles; should the opportunity present itself, maybe they would feel compelled rape women or men.

    Now society’s understandable disgust and anger is mistakenly directed at all paedophiles, regardless of whether they could even bring themselves to touch a child without being overcome with guilt and self-loathing. And this problem is as serious as homophobia or even racism. Imagine if scientists suddenly discovered that homosexual sex was very harmful to the recipient, and therefore must be made illegal. We’d quite reasonably be angered by homosexuals who continued to have sex with men, knowing that they were causing a lot of harm. But would we, or should we, be disgusted by the homosexuality itself? Would it be fair to call gay men ‘monsters’, and to equate their sexual attraction to men as on a par with the desire to murder innocent people? How would gay people feel if we had that attitude towards them?

    But paedophiles are everywhere, and they often pose no danger to children. Paedophilic attraction is qualitatively the same as ordinary sexuality; what makes it a problem, and possibly an illness, is that it is directed at people who are too young to take part in sexual acts. But the point is that merely being attracted to children does not make one more prone to dishonesty, weak will, aggression, etc.. The distinction between paedophiles and non-paedophiles is merely the fact that paedophiles are turned on by the appearance of children instead of adults.

    And like everybody else, paedophiles do not choose who they are sexually attracted to; it happens to them, and they have to live with it. What this means is that when we direct hatred and anger towards someone purely because they have an attraction towards children, we are no better than racists or homophobes; just as we cannot help what race we are born with, we cannot help how our sexuality develops. And the prejudice against paedophiles is just as damaging as that against other minority groups. It’s incredibly hurtful to be called a ‘monster’ or a ‘freak’, or to be told that you are ‘sick’ and should be killed (even though the usual cure for sickness is treatment, not murder). Being open about your sexuality is not an option for paedophiles; just as is once wasn’t for homosexuals. You could lose your job, your friends, or even be subject to a vigilante attack.

    Anyway, to wrap things up, this is why I believe that we need to keep our emotions way out of the issue of paedophilia. Let the courts and prisons punish the child molesters based on hard facts about what the consequences of their actions are, and on what will effectively deter either them or others from committing further such acts. If we add our own form of punishment into the mix with our sensationalist and frankly superstitious hatred towards all minor-attracted adults, we will continue to isolate thousands of innocent men and women and make their lives unbearable. This is collateral damage, and it needs to be stopped.

    I do not wish to distract attention from the obvious, long-lasting pain that victims of child abuse go through. It must be hell. And nor do I wish to suggest that the law itself need necessarily change, or that we should relax our attitude towards people who actually abuse children. It goes without saying that children need to be protected from harm. But it is less obvious that adult men and women must not discriminated against based merely on their thoughts, regardless of whether these thoughts lead to harmful actions. Like it or not, paedophiles are among us, and they are human beings with human rights that must be protected providing they obey the law.
    So paedophilia is not child abuse, it is sexual attraction to children. Of course it is a motivating reason to abuse children, just as heterosexuality motivates us to try and sleep with the opposite sex. But many hetero- and homosexuals are able to lead celibate lives without being tempted to commit rape. And contrary to popular belief, the same is true of paedophiles. This may be moral luck, but then you could say the same about celibate non-poaedophiles; should the oppurtunity present itself, maybe they would feel compelled rape women or men.

    Now society’s understandable disgust and anger is mistakenly directed at all paedophiles, regardless of whether they could even bring themselves to touch a child without being overcome with guilt and self-loathing. And this problem is as serious as homophobia or even racism. Imagine if scientists suddenly discovered that homosexual sex was very harmful to the recipient, and therefore must be made illegal. We’d quite reasonably be angered by homosexuals who continued to have sex with men, knowing that they were causing a lot of harm. But would we, or should we, be disgusted by the homosexuality itself? Would it be fair to call gay men ‘monsters’, and to equate their sexual attraction to men as on a par with the desire to murder innocent people? How would gay people feel if we had that attitude towards them?

    I don’t want to distract attention from the obvious pain that victims of child abuse must go through. It must be hell. And nor do I wish to suggest that the law itself need necessarily change, or that we should relax our attitude towards people who actually abuse children.

    But paedophiles are everywhere, and they often pose no danger to children. Paedophilic attraction is qualititively the same as ordinary sexuality; what makes it a problem, and possibly an illness, is that it is directed at people who are too young to take part in sexual acts. But the point is that merely being attracted to children does not make one more prone to dishonesty, weak will, agression, etc.. The distinction between paedophiles and non-paedophiles is merely the fact that paedophiles are turned on by the appearance of children instead of adults.

    And like everyobody else, paedophiles do not choose who they are sexually attracted to; it happens to them, and they have to live with it. What this means is that when we direct hatred and anger towards someone purely because they have an attraction towards children, we are no better than racists or homophobes; just as we cannot help what race we are born with, we cannot help how our sexuality develops. And the prejudice against paedophiles is just as damaging as that against other minority groups. It’s incredibly hurtful to be called a ‘monster’ or a ‘freak’, or to be told that you’re ‘sick’ and should be killed (even though the usual cure for sickness is treatment, not murder). Being open about your sexuality is just not an option for paedophiles; just as ist once wasn’t an option for homosexuals. You could lose your job, your friends, or even be subject to a vigilante attack.

    Anyway, to wrap things up, this is why I believe that we need to keep our emotions way out of the issue of paedophilia. Let the courts and prisons punish the child molestors. If we add our own form of punishment into the mix with our sensationalist and frankly supersticious hatred towards all minor-attracted adults, we will continue to isolate thousands of innocent men and make their lives unbearable. This is collateral damage, and it needs to be stopped.

  39. I forgot to paste in this paragraph…

    I do not wish to distract attention from the obvious, long-lasting pain that victims of child abuse go through. It must be hell. And nor do I wish to suggest that the law itself need necessarily change, or that we should relax our attitude towards people who actually abuse children. It goes without saying that children need to be protected from harm. But it is less obvious that adult men and women must not discriminated against based merely on their thoughts, regardless of whether these thoughts lead to harmful actions. Like it or not, paedophiles are among us, and they are human beings with human rights that must be protected providing they obey the law.

    (Sorry my message is so long, hopefully somebody will have the time to read it.)

  40. Actually, that post was a complete mess wasn’t it… I didn’t finish editing. Oops.

  41. A shocked silence.

    That certainly makes for uncomfortable reading. I’ve never heard anyone admit to this before. But I think the point is well made that we need to master our emotional response on this subject. Ultimately the issue is about human rights, not paedophiles.

  42. Yes, it’s about human rights, and as strange as this sounds, law-abiding paedophiles have as much right to be respected as anyone else. When paedophiles with no history of abuse are called ‘sickos’ or ‘monsters’ based purely on their sexuality (which they only channel into private, legal activities), this should shock and outrage us as much as the use of racial slurs.

  43. Ben, I empathize with your sense of isolation and frustration.

    But be careful. Paedophiles are not ‘everywhere’; the internet only makes it seem so.

    Comparisons with homosexuality and heterosexuality are dangerous. Legitimate relationahips of these types are always between consenting adults. Sexual relationships between adults and minors will always be exploitative and damaging to both parties.

    Sexual relationships can be dangerous, for example if one partner is carrying HIV, or if the wife in a heterosexual relationship is a devout Catholic, won’t use contraception but is in danger if she becomes pregnant. These couples can always find means of sexual release but paedophiles never can.

    Even masturbation & pornography is barred because the pornography must originate somewhere and one could not condon the marketing of adult-child sex.

    So in the end the paedophile is almost alone – however, there are treatments and these should be tackled. Not “cures”, but at least managing the problem. That is all there is, I’m afraid.

    Should paedophiles be forgiven? Yes, absolutely if they honestly seek treatment. The example given is much too simple. How could a woman comtemplate continuing intimate relations with a man who had made sexual overtures to her young daughter? She should at least inisist on a period of “exile” and treatment.

  44. I apologise for this being brief or disjointed. I would simply like to say that I enjoyed reading your response Ben, and agree with much of what you have said. I do think we have the wrong attitude as a society, and we should concentrate on those who commit child abuse, rather than those who harbour sexual feelings towards children but do not act upon them. I do believe that sexual attraction like this cannot be controlled, but that actions can be. However, this viewpoint is unusual. General public feeling (some example of which is here) has little sympathy and great disgust for the subject. And someone tell me how a paedophile could “seek treatment” when even professionals won’t bother to hide their revulsion?

  45. Toby,

    I was not making a comparison between paedophilic relationships and hetero-/homosexual relationships. I compared paedophilic feelings with hetero-/homosexual feelings. This comparison is very important, because when it is not realised, people get discriminated against purely for their thoughts and not for their actions. The common sense view is that paedophilic feelings are necessarily destructive, violent feelings which have the power to compel even the most moral and rational man to commit atrocious acts. The reality is that paedophilic feelings are much like homosexual or heterosexual feelings… they are strong, sexually- and romantically-charged desires for contact with other human beings.

    Paedophilic actions are another matter, but these needn’t accompany the desires. Paedophiles can express their feelings in solitary ways, and be satisfied by this to a reasonable degree (child porn may be illegal, but home movies on youtube are not).

  46. Ben,

    Psychiatrists and doctors get very concerned when a patient admits that they have fantasies about killing people, or raping people, for example. Fantasies often precede actions.

    Whether I feel disgusted by your paedophilic impulses is not important: what is important is that you are a danger to society, you are a ticking time-bomb. Just because you may not have acted on your impulses yet does not make you “safe”. Do not for a second think that what you are doing is OK, because you haven’t hurt anyone . . . YET. The fact that these impulses are as uncontrollable as you have pointed out only makes you more of a threat.

    Paedophilia is different to other forms of sexuality because it can never be an expression of love, it can only ever be a violation of the worst kind. I have been close to a few people who have been sexually abused as children, and depending on the severity of the abuse they still exhibit varying degrees of maladjustment and mental / emotional problems.

    Sexual abuse destroys people’s lives in so many ways: some obvious, some insidiously subtle. Please seek help for this extremely serious problem now, before you do hurt someone.

  47. Sorry for the delay in responding, I realise you probably won’t see this now…

    There’s a world of difference between fantasising about consensual sex with someone and fantasizing about hurting someone. I imagine you probably think (as most people do) that consensual sex with young adolescents is impossible because they can’t consent. That may well be true, but in the realm of fantasy anything is possible, and consensual sex is what I fantasise about. I am not comparable to people who regularly fantasise about rape and murder… it worries me that you would think that. I am not a danger to society, I am a member of society. I am not a ticking time-bomb either. What makes you think that paedophilic desires are more urgent than ordinary sexual desires? I imagine you probably have the ability to control your sexual impulses and refrain from acting on them. What makes you think I don’t?

    It worries me that you think that what I am doing is not OK, since I am not hurting anyone. Why shouldn’t I be free to think about whatever I want and do whatever I want to my own body in private? If you think I am somehow increasing the likelihood that I will hurt somebody in the future, then you need to explain why. It’s not obvious.

    Paedophilia can be an expression of love. Arguably not mutual love, but many paedophiles certainly have strong romantic feelings for children. They often don’t. I don’t, I’ll admit that; I experience strong sexual feelings for adolescent girls, but not since my own adolescence have I had romantic feelings for them (although that could be just because I don’t tend to meet them). But anyway, adults often have purely lustful feelings for other adults, and it’s not taboo for adults to express pure lust and have ‘meaningless sex’ with each other, or just to admire the bodies of other adults or masturbate over purely sexual thoughts about other adults. It is normal (healthy, in fact) for men to be sexually attracted to women without necessarily falling in love with them. You can claim that paedophilic feelings are unhealthy, and I expect you to, but they are not unhealthy just because they are sexual feelings that don’t necessarily have a romantic element to them. It is not unhealthy to have lust without love. And paedophiles can and do love children, so a lack of love is not the difference between paedophilia and normal sexuality anyway. The difference between paedophilia and normal sexuality is just that paedophiles fancy children, not adults.

    I also object to your statement that paedophilia “can only be a violation of the worst kind”. First of all, you don’t have to ever go near a child to be a paedophile; it’s a sexual attraction, not a pattern of behaviour. Secondly, sexual contact with children is not necessarily even in the same league as violent rape, torture, mutilation, or other terrible violations of human beings. Many acts of child abuse are horrific, of course. You probably believe that all sexual acts with children are bad, which is understandable, but let’s be clear here: fondling a 13 year old child is nowhere near as bad as killing or raping somebody. It is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a “violation of the worst kind”. Rape, torture, murder etc. are all clearly MUCH worse. So paedophilic actions are often not violations of the worst kind. They may be violations, but they vary in strength, and it is an insult to victims of e.g. torture to imply that certain mild paedophilic acts are worse than what torture-victims have been through. It’s also pretty terrifying to be considered, by implication, worse than a serial killer or someone who kidnaps and tortures people, when all I have ever done is masturbated in the privacy of my bedroom.

    Sexual abuse destroys people’s lives, you’re absolutely right. But by ‘sexual abuse’ I mean non-consensual, coercive, manipulative or violent sexual acts. I don’t even fantasise about those. Do you have any evidence that non-aggressive, possibly non-penetrative (depending on age; obviously pre-pubescent children would be harmed by actual intercourse), consensual sexual intimacy between children and adults always leads to harm, subtle or otherwise? It’s no good citing cases of child-rape or sexual violence against children, because while those obviously lead to a great degree of suffering, they have nothing to do with me. I don’t even fantasise about those sorts of acts, so you can’t tell me I have an unhealthy desire to hurt people based on those extreme cases.

    I hope you get a chance to read this, and that you consider the points I have made and respond directly to them. What usually happens when I discuss this is that I write a long post dealing with what’s been said point-by-point, and then the response I get is just a restatement of the original case against paedophilia, with no consideration of the new points I’ve raised. Or even worse, I get death threats.

  48. ben – you’re a brave man.

  49. I think about all sorts of crazy stuff to get me off when Im wanking, but it doesn’t mean Im into those things in my ACTUAL life!

    I guess I see Bens preference as the ultimate objectification of the female – as naive (gullible/empty headed/purely physical) and as tight as possible (the ultimate cock receptacle bar the anus)

    i see many many men (aged anything up to the age of 70) lecherously staring at very young girls …

    makes me want to forget all about any pathetic concepts of genuine romantic relationships with men

  50. I don’t understand how anyone could even try and justify ‘inappropriate touching’ as ‘not quite as bad’. Any harm against a child, that takes away a child’s innocence is awful beyond words! What does it matter on what ‘scale’ of evil it lies? This is the problem with our society, we try to justify things and make excuses for people, maybe because we don’t want to comprehend how disgusting and wrong the situation actually is. And justifying even thinking about children in a sexual way is sick and wrong. It’s scary to even look at the prospect of seeing thinking as a child in that way as okay ‘because you are just born with viewing children as sexually attractive’. Whether you act on it or not, it’s still awful that anyone could fantasize about taking away a child’s innocence. Giving people freedom to think like that, being sympathetic towards them, is diminishing the freedom of children.

    This is why sex was only ever intended for marriage since the beginning of creation. If we had obeyed this, there wouldn’t be so many evil and perverse sexual acts in the world today.

    Some of the comments here that lean almost towards tolerance of this way of thinking make me utterly scared to bring children of my own into the world.

  51. The hate campaign against paedophiles (and hebephiles etc.) explains why paedophiles are something like 150 times more likely to commit suicide than the general population, according to the journal Archives of Suicide Research. Combating homophobia doesn’t take courage in UK today. But fake progressives don’t want to oppose the fascist treatment of other sexual minorities by pointing to scientific research such as this
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Censoring-Sex-Research-Intergenerational-Relations/dp/1611323398/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1399831890&sr=8-1&keywords=censoring+sex+research

    -http://mhamic.org/effects/effectsintro.htm

    or this – http://mhamic.org/rind/
    or this – http://mhamic.org/prevalence/prevalenceintro.htm
    Which is why the future of sexual minorities in this country is likely to be something like this –

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZmuXKNFIkM
    and is likely to lead to new concentration camps as it already has in Russia, the US and elsewhere – http://www.counterpunch.org/2006/03/04/scapegoats-and-shunning/

    Some other sources are interesting:

    On the questions of harm, the book by the Harvard lecturer Susan Clancy, “The Trauma Myth: The Truth About the Sexual Abuse of Children–and Its Aftermath” and this book which the psychatrist Dr Frans Gieles helped prepare – https://www.ipce.info/host/rivas/positive_memories.htm

    Regarding the prevalence of paedophile attraction, these studies (and a few others) are quite surprising from the perspective of mainstream preconceptions:

    http://mhamic.org/sources/halletal.htm

    Hall, G.C.N., Hirschman, R., & Oliver, L.L., “Sexual Arousal and Arousability to Pedophilic Stimuli in a Community Sample of Normal Men,” Behavior Therapy, vol. 26, 1995, pp. 681-694.

    Hall and colleagues describe their finding that according to both self-reports and physiological measurements, over 25% of the men in their sample of volunteers were sexually aroused by pre-pubescent girls at a level equal to or greater than their arousal to adult women.

    http://mhamic.org/sources/smiljanich&briere.htm

    Smiljanich, K. & Briere, J., “Self-reported sexual interest in children: Sex differences and psychosocial correlates in a university sample,” Violence & Victims, vol. 11, no. 1, 1996, pp. 39-50.

    Kathy Smiljanich and John Briere report that 22% of their sample of male college students admitted some attraction to children (although the word child was not defined). Four percent admitted having a sexual fantasy involving a child in the past year, and 3% admitted they might have sex with a child if they were assured it would not be detected or punished.

    Perhaps this also partly explains why a “who’s who” of 20th century philosophy (including Sartre, de Beauvoir, Deleuze, Guattari, Althusser, Katherine Millet, Foucault, Derrida etc.) had the courage to defend the rights of the modern-day witches:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_petition_against_age_of_consent_laws

  52. The dominant perception of paedophilia and paedophiles completely ignores much science dealing with the personality and behaviour of paedophiles/hebephiles ( see http://www.b4uact.org/facts.htm and the excellent article by the Professor Richard Green of Cambridge University here http://www.paraphilias.com/publications/commentary.html – which also notes that paedophile relations are omni-present among our closest relatives, the pygmy chimpanzees/bonobos) and the effects of this behaviour (as mentioned below with regards to the major Rind et al. and Susan Clancy studies which annihilate the “trauma myth” and explain how social response and conditioning lead to extreme harm both to real victims of abusive behaviour and to those who were conditioned or otherwise harmed by social reaction and stigma surrounding their experience). Not only does the narrative strongly dehumanise an entire enormous group of people – at least 70-140 million people globally if prevalence is only 1-2%, far far more/more than a quarter of the male population if the Smiljanich, Fedora et al., Quinsey et al., Firestone et al. and Briere and Runtz studies on the prevalence of paedophilia are accurate – see
    http://www.b4uact.org/facts.htm ; Professor Tromovitch summarized the scientific studies which found a surprisingly high prevalence of pedophilia among men in these two posters below:

    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/44284820/Prevalence%20-%20Trom%201.JPG

    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/44284820/Prevalence%20-%20Trom%202.JPG

    Numerous studies demonstrate the many often very counter-productive results of current policies and the current discourse. The current social response to youth sexuality (and paedophilic, hebephilic and ephebophilic teens and adults) DOES NOT provide optimal protection for children from real abuse, which is certainly very common and extremely worrying.
    ====================

    The huge impact of the paedophile hysteria in terms of the segregation between generations, the prohibition on touch (and, effectively, even a prohibition on talking to a child or giving them a smile) is universally damaging, whereas child sexual abuse does not occur as often. This climate contributes to the emotional starvation of children as well as adults. For some reason, the media are far less interested in the physical and psychological abuse of children, which can be just as damaging if not more so.

    Lack of affection towards children and the repression of youth sexuality are tremendously damaging and will lead (probably already has) to more violent new generations. Marcuse stressed the benefits of “polymorphous perversion” for human development in Eros and Civilization (in one place in the book he also defends nonviolent paedophile relations). Also in the more sexually liberated sixties and seventies, the famous developmental psychologist James W. Prescott discovered the link between lack of affection, repression of youth sexuality and violence:

    http://www.violence.de/prescott/bulletin/article.html

    http://www.violence.de/

    This would also explain why our closest relatives the pygmy chimpanzees (bonobos), who are highly promiscuous, are far less violent than humans and the “normal” chimpanzees”. The bonobos are the “make love not war” species: they have no rape, no inter-tribal wars (they have sex with other tribes they meet in the forest, unlike the monogamous “normal” chimpanzees who enter into murderous conflict with other tribes), they are mostly vegetarian and hunt far less than chimpanzees (and humans) do. They are “feministic” (the females rule the roost but the males do not mind because they are sexually happy and feel no compulsion to enter into competitive hierarchical conflict between each other). And they also have sex in all combinations as a form of peace-making, including homosexuality, incest and nonviolent paedophilia, which is very often initiated by the “child” bonobo, and seems to be equally as common as other forms of sexual contact (according to this research – https://www.ipce.info/library_3/files/90_waal.htm ) . No wonder it was the Peace News newspaper in the UK which first published articles in support of nonviolent affectionate paedophilia in the 70s and 80s. No wonder it was the Dutch Socialist Pacifist Party which (ultimately successfully) campaigned for an age of consent of 12 in Holland. No wonder that the German Greens officially supported “the legalisation of non-violent sexual relations between adults and children” in their pre-1990 pacifist socialist period. No wonder that the current paedo-hysteria originated from the hyper-militaristic and capitalistic US largely as a backlash against sexual liberation (along with credible concern about actual sexual abuse, which is very common in our kind of repressed, exploitative and violent society).

    =====================

    Here’s a quote:

    “Professor Tromovitch and the psychologist Bruce Rind (of Temple University) in 1998 published an article based on a peer-reviewed meta-analysis of 59 studies which used the self-reported experiences of child sexual contact with adults by 35,703 college students. A substantial percentage of the people in this study did not report any harmful effects of (non-coercive) sexual experiences (as opposed to victims of coercion), and a substantial minority even stated these intergenerational sexual contacts and
    relationships had a positive effect on their life. This article was published in the Psychological Bulletin, the prestigious, official journal of the American Psychological Association (APA).

    Predictably, this caused a storm in the mass media and in the political elite. Apparently for the first time in US history, both the US House of Representatives and the US Senate condemned a scientific paper and threatened to withdraw funding
    from the APA, so the APA apologised for publishing this study. 12 past and present presidents of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sex sharply protested against the APA’s response to the public and political pressure surrounding the study, stating that it “cast a chill on all such research”. The American Association for the Advancement of Science refused APA’s request to review the study, stating they saw “no reason to second-guess the process of peer review used by the APA journal in its decision to publish” and that they “saw no clear evidence of improper application of methodology or other questionable practices on the part of the article’s authors”.

    More recently, the Harvard lecturer Susan Clancy came to the similar conclusions in her book “The Trauma Myth”.See also this study – http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12119-002-1001-3 and these philosophical articles: Card, C., What’s wrong with Adult-Child Sex?, Journal of Social Philosophy, Volume 33, Issue 2, pages 170-177, Summer 2002.
    Primoratz, I., Pedophilia, in Soble, A. (ed.), Sex from Plato to Paglia, A Philosophical Encyclopedia, Greenwood Press, Westport, Connecticut, 2005

    ================

    Below is another interesting study.

    Leahy, Terry (1994). “Taking up a Position: Discourses of Femininity and Adolescence in the Context of Man/Girl Relationships,” Gender & Society, 8(1), 48-72.

    “This article is based on a small-scale interview study (N = 19) of
    the experiences of girls who were or had been in sexual relationships with adults. It is confined to relationships that were considered by the young parties to have been voluntary and, in general, positive. […] The interviewees wanted to make their positive experiences of such relationships public in view of the widespread opinion that all such events are harmful to the younger parties involved. The interviews were taped and transcribed. […]

    Wendy met Paul when she was 12 years old. He was in his mid-20s. […
    From her account there is little doubt that Paul was in love with Wendy and showed this affection by his emotional support and understanding of her emotional needs at the time. A statement that stands as a summary of their relationship is the
    following:

    He was just really … he was much more sensitive than most people I’ve known. He’s much more concerned. He just had … the cup runneth over with love and affection. He was really attentive all the time and that sort of attention I’ve not had from, really from anybody. Just the depth of sensitivity and asking me how I felt about things all the time. […]

    Wendy’s account fits this theme; she claims that Paul and his friends encouraged her to see herself as capable of undertaking university study and that this had a major impact on her life. […]

    Wendy and Paul’s sexual relationship did not include penetration but was confined to tongue kissing and petting. […] In her account, Wendy describes Paul’s behavior in these terms:

    I mean he did want to. He wanted
    to be sexual, he wanted to be physically close and I felt that. I remember rubbing against him when he had a hard on and things like that but most of the time it felt like he just wanted to be really close and warm. … We used to cuddle a lot and kiss and things. It got vaguely sexual for a while. Tongue kissing … a great wet beard. He was really really really gentle. More gentle than I think anyone else I’ve ever known as far as that goes. He was obviously being really careful. […]
    At one point she comments on the feeling of protection she felt when Paul carried her in
    his arms. […]
    Whereas conservative romantic texts require that the male leads and the female follows, Wendy suggests that she prized and insisted on an equality of authority in relationship. She did not hesitate to oppose Paul. […]

    Bobbie, the last interviewee in this set of narratives, was introduced to her uncle when she was 11. […] Bobbie has no doubts about her uncle’s genuine fondness for her, and indicates a concern for her on his part which is consonant with the model of romance offered by conservative romantic texts:
    It was so caring and considerate, I s’pose, which
    most adult sexual relations aren’t because there’s more of an equal, supposedly there’s more of an equal power base so you don’t … I’ve never found that sort of catering for again but I treasure having been, not nurtured, but having been cared for that much and eased into it slowly and all those sorts of things. […]
    The experiences I had with an uncle whom I liked a lot and with whom I had a very important intellectual relationship were really important in terms of the development of my sexuality, like in terms of educating me basically.”

    ===========

    The case of Mary Kay Letourneau ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Kay_Letourneau ), a 35-year old teacher imprisoned for having a sexual and emotional relationship with her 12-year old pupil, is also illustrative of the complexities of real life. They later married and now live together with their two children. The supposed “victim” Vili Foulaau later said: ‘I’m not a victim. I’m not ashamed of being a father. I’m not ashamed of being in love with Mary Kay.’ The attorney said that Letourneau considered her affair (and later marriage) with Fualaau to be “eternal and endless” and that “nothing could have kept the two of them apart.” ( see a recent photo of the two of them together here – http://edition.cnn.com/2014/01/06/us/washington-letourneau-arrest/index.html ).

    ===========

    Someone posted this elsewhere: “Many such people (exclusive and non-exclusive pedophiles and hebephiles) have done good things and have contributed to society through art, literature, philosophy, social activism. They were not monsters. People like Socrates, Plato, Sappho, Phidias, Donatello, Sa’di, Omar Khayam, Abu Nuwas, Lope de Vega, Novalis, Goethe, Lord Byron, Walt Whitman, John Ruskin, Ernest Dowson, Andre Gide, Thomas Mann, Hermann Hesse, Lewis Carroll, J.M. Barrie, Paul Verlaine, Stephane Mallarme, Paul Gauguin, W.H. Auden, Wilfred Owen, T.E. Lawrence, T.H. White, Paul Eluard, Paul Goodman, William Carlos Williams, Odysseus Elytis, Benjamin Britten, Tschaikovsky, Proust, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Gandhi, Allen Ginsberg….. ”

    ==========

    Instead of supporting and encouraging the attempts of such people to live fulfilling and constructive, non-abusive lives, it is much more acceptable to dehumanise all the “paedos”, even regardless of their behaviour, to use them for political ends (see http://www.newstatesman.com/laurie-penny/2014/07/emergency-surveilliance-law-camerons-cynical-appeal-three-four-horsemen ), to cage them ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZmuXKNFIkM ), to send them to new forms of concentration
    camps (see http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/26/civil-commitment-sex-offenders , http://www.counterpunch.org/2006/03/04/scapegoats-and-shunning/ , http://sexgulag.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/what-you-must-know-sexually-violent.html and to drive them to suicide (http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/62072/ – “child sex offenders” were 183 times more likely to commit suicide than the general population).

    In the words of Freimond (file:///home/chronos/user/Downloads/etd8167_CFreimond%20(4).pdf): “Many adults who are attracted to minors experience intense suffering as a result of contemporary attitudes about them and current methods of relating to them. Even when no crimes have taken place and no sexual interaction with people below the age of consent has occurred, people who are sexually interested in children and adolescents encounter incredible stigma. They experience fear about the possibility of their desires becoming known to others, and they cope with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. These individuals are often completely alone in dealing with their feelings, as they may be too worried about the negative consequences that could arise from talking to loved ones. Further, they may feel restricted in seeking help from therapists, as mandatory reporting laws in many jurisdictions require counsellors to report their clients to the police if they express sexual interest in children. If the nature of their sexuality is revealed, these people are at risk of experiencing physical violence, losing relationships with their friends and families, being fired from their jobs, and encountering financial destitution. The situation facing this population is troubling, and researchers argue that a new, more compassionate approach is needed in order to help people who are attracted to children lead more positive lives (see Cantor, 2012; Goode, 2010).”

    As Felix Guattari wrote (see the book “A Shock to Thought: Expression After Deleuze and Guattari”), there is a certain “Jewishness” about paedophiles which leads to a “racist” reaction.

  53. In the last two paragraphs of his article “The Prospects of Radical Politics Today” – http://www.ubishops.ca/baudrillardstudies/vol5_1/v5-1-article3-zizek.html – Slavoj Zizek criticizes the dominant ideology surrounding the issue of pedophilia and child sexuality. Very interesting! Who knows what the mores and attitudes about pedophilia will be like in a few decades…

  54. Coralyn, it seems to me that you have a victim mentality. I am not trying to justify what happen to u but i don’t think it would have happen to you if you didn’t do something that made it easier to happen to u, such as making karma from a past life. But also, was what happen to u really as bad as u think it was, I’m not trying to offend you or anything

  55. For a different perspective, see these two interesting YouTube videos:

    About a Minority – by Antipedophobe Aktion

    Let’s talk about pedophilia – by Jenn

    It is also interesting how almost everybody ignores or doesn’t know about the major meta-study of 35,000 people by Rind et al., the testimonials of positive relationships documented in a book by T.Rivas, the book by Theo Sandort (although the Guardian article “Paedophilia: Bringing dark desires to light” does mention it), etc. See also the Counterpunch article “Sexual fascism in progressive America”, the article by the Cambridge and UCL lecturer Richard Green, “Is paedophilia a mental disorder?” (including the bit about the bonobos) and Filip Schuster’s “Every fifth boy and man is pedophilic or hebephilic”.

  56. My belief is that sexual abuse of children is not necessarily sexually driven in its motivation, such as the energy felt between two consenting adults. The power, control, dominance and sexual manipulation is the driving force behind the desire, which then plays out sexually, this is not necessarily as simple as a sexual desire (which needs to ensure it is not acted upon).

    Children can feel an inherent loyalty and desire for their parents love and acceptance, despite what the parents behaviour is/ what they do to them. It is a reliquishment of parental responsibility for a mother to ask a child what they want, it isn’t about what the child wants, it’s about keeping the child safe from crime within the sanctuary of her home.

  57. I am only posting again as I feel very concerned about this shift we are seeing in trying to understand and support paedophilia as a valid form of sexual expression, or a valid state of sexuality to be managed – it’s not. The argument seems to be, well this is their sexuality, how can we deal with this safely?

    As societies, we historically demonise and persecute what we perceive as ‘difference’ – and some people who have felt silenced have a slightly louder voice these days, I am talking about sexual and gender identity, such as homosexuality, trans men and women etc.

    It feels our understanding and willingness to understand difference is somehow now being extended to children – paedophilia is not based in sexual attraction – it is based in power – a power which is demonstrated sexually.

    There is so much pro ‘child love’ stuff out there – men and women who blur the boundary between consent and what’s natural. I vote for gay marriage, trans rights etc., but refuse to see paedophilia as a valid, natural form of sexuality identity, which must be managed – that is missing the point.

    It is never ever ever ever consensual, even if the child is coerced into believing it is, or that everything will be ok if daddy says sorry and promises not to do it ever again.

  58. The pedophiles need for control is insatiable and the hand print he leaves on his victims is eternal. Once a pedophile forever a pedophile. I say castrate and remove hands and feet. The end.

  59. ❗ I would like to say that non-offending pedophiles do cause harm as children can still be violated by the feelings brought up in them when pedophiles lust over them. Children are astute and sensitive to the feelings of others-they may not understand them-but can still leave them with guilt,shame and revulsion. A pedophile does not need to lay hands on a child to bring up the same feelings as if they were.

  60. By experience. My mom forgave my dad and uncle for molesting me. Yeah now I learn to forgive but there’s an empty hole for the rest of my life because now I am a mom and I will not do it. My job is to protect. I love mom, but she made a wrong desicion, wish she fought for me; I was little and had to be my own hero. Forgive but don’t forget.

  61. My father spread me open on the edge of the bed and rubbed himself in me; he came suddenly. He ran to get a washcloth. As he cleaned me, he looked in my eyes and said “Don’t tell mother”. I was 12 then and am now 59. I am having more trouble with the sexual abuse in my family more now than ever. You know it’s funny cause your mind is a very weird and wonderful place that will protect you, yet remind you years and years later when your trigger hits. That is what happened to me.

  62. When they violate or tarnish your children, try writing it again. It is unwise to become the spectator with this situation. If you have hopes in these poor little pedophiles, dedicate to them in body and soul.

  63. I saw how society was so quick to point the finger at sexual abuse victims for not forgiving. And I saw how the spiritual mandate of forgiveness made predators smile ear to ear. I literally saw this dynamic play out in a therapy group I was part of many years ago. There are certain scars that don’t “poof” disappear because someone chooses to forgive. Just as a river that has toxic industrial chemicals dumped into it doesn’t become clear fresh water because mother nature decides to forgive, healing is a long, hard, arduous process. The spiritual mandate of forgiveness, as it stands, really does serve perpetrators because it means little to no consequences or deterrent for them. If people are willing to forgive pedophiles, are they equally willing to forgive those individuals who send those who rape children to meet their maker? Probably. Well if it sounds like everyone gets forgiveness anyway, it is much better in the interest of healthy children to send pedos to meet their maker, and after, and only after that’s done, we’ll just forgive everybody.

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