Is paedophilia a psychiatric disorder or a natural sexual orientation? Should we accept a paedophile as freely as we accept heterosexuals and homosexuals?
According to TEDx talker, Mirjam Heine, paedophiles are like everyone else. During a lecture at the University of Würzburg, she shares her views with guests.
“Paedophilia is an unchangeable sexual orientation, just like, for example, heterosexuality. No one chooses to be a paedophile, no one can cease being one. The difference between paedophilia and other sexual orientations is that living out their sexual orientation; will end in a disaster.”
Heine’s lecture is one which many might consider as unacceptable. Especially as she compares it to other sexual orientations.
“Like every other sexual orientation, paedophilia can have different characteristics. For example, it can be heterosexual, it can be homosexual, bisexual. Some paedophiles are exclusively attracted to children, others are not exclusively attracted to children, but also sexually interested in adults.”
Heine explains the vast majority of paedophiles are men, elaborating 1% to 2% of men are paedophiles.
“This roughly translates to roughly 60 million people worldwide. Therefore, paedophilia is not an irrelevant phenomenon that we can ignore.”
She adds the chances of people knowing at least one paedophile is therefore relatively high.
While admitting child abuse is wrong, she claims not all child abusers are paedophiles. “Scientific studies indicate that 20% to 30 % of all child molesters are paedophiles.”
Heine says perpetrators are usually adults who are usually sexually attracted to adults but target children because of ease of access.
This falls under similar studies, for example, according to Abel, Mittleman, and Becker (1985) and Ward et al. (1995), there are generally large distinctions between the characteristics of paedophilic and non-paedophilic molesters.
They state that non-paedophilic offenders tend to offend at times of stress; have a later onset of offending; and have fewer, often familial, victims, while paedophilic offenders often start offending at an early age; often have a larger number of victims who are frequently extrafamilial; are more inwardly driven to offend; and have values or beliefs that strongly support an offense lifestyle.
With Heine looking at paedophilia as a sexual orientation, she feels society should accept paedophiles and reach out to them.
By accepting them within our fold, she believes we can minimise the possibility of a paedophile molesting a child.
Is Mirjam Heine wrong in believing that paedophilia is a sexual orientation and not a disorder as we have always believed?
As unsettling as her lecture is, she is not the only individual to believe paedophilia is a sexual orientation.
Dr James Cantor, of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, Canada, has done extensive research on the topic, exploring the brains of paedophiles using MRI scans.
As with the TEDx talker, Dr Cantor also believes paedophilia is a sexual orientation and it is something we are essentially born with. In fact, he says it’s as core to our being as any other sexual orientation is.”
With more and more people claiming paedophilia is a mere sexual orientation, how can you identify a potential paedophile or child molester who might be planning to form a bond with your child?
While child molesters don’t stand out from the crowd, there are signs that you can look out for. These signs are as follows:
- Paedophiles often treat or talk to children as if the child is an adult. They might even relate better to children than adults. In fact, they tend to try and spend as much time with children as possible.
- Child molesters enjoy taking photographs and videos of children. Be wary of the family member or friend who constantly wants to take photos of your child.
- Sex offenders who prey on children will often groom a child, gaining their trust before they molest them. Grooming involves taking the child on holidays, shopping trips or buying the child gifts.
- Always hugging children, as well as other physical affection, which will at times be done in front of parents to create a sense of trust with everyone.
- A sex-offender will often get involved in sporting or volunteer programmes where children are involved. They will then focus on the most vulnerable children.
- A male sex offender who is single, will often try and date women with children or become close friends with people who have children and will readily offer to babysit.
With paedophilia being described more often as a sexual orientation, what are your thoughts? Do you feel paedophiles can lead well-adjusted lives within society, not harming children? Or do you feel they should be kept at arm’s length?
Share your views and opinions with us in the comment section below.