Monday, June 24, 2013

Contrasting Views on Pedophila

The changing definition of pedophilia certainly does not help in lessening the debate that surrounds the topic of pedophilia. There is not even much agreement over what causes pedophilia – is pedophilia innate or acquired? Researchers at Canada’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health suggested that pedophilia may be connected to brain development and that pedophiles may be “wired differently” than others.[1] Such research suggests that pedophilia is something more innate, it cannot be helped. There is even a growing trend in Canada arguing that pedophilia should be classified as a “distinct sexual orientation” – like heterosexuality and homosexuality (a trend to which I am vehemently opposed). This classification was even testified to in 2011 at a Canadian Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights by two prominent researchers.[2] Moreover, the Harvard Mental Health Letter stated in 2010 that “Pedophilia is a sexual orientation and unlikely to change. Treatment aims to enable someone to resist acting on his sexual urges. No intervention is likely to work on its own; outcomes may be better when the patient is motivated and treatment combines psychotherapy and medication.”[3]

In my opinion, the views advocated by the Harvard Mental Health Letter and some researchers are terribly disheartening. How can pedophilia ever possibly be classified as “sexual orientation”? Such a notion seems to place less blame on the pedophile and therefore make his/her actions – for those that do commit abusive acts against children – seem much less monstrous and terrible. In contrast to the views advocated by some in the medical community, child protection agencies and those who work with sex offenders argue that pedophilia is actually “learned behaviour” that can be unlearned. Donald Findlater, a director of research and development at the Lucy Faithfull Foundation (a charity committed to preventing child sexual abuse) stated that “In the world of people who work with sex offenders here, [pedophilia] is learned behaviour...There may be some vulnerabilities that could be genetic, but normally there are some significant events in a person's life, a sexually abusive event, a bullying environment...I believe it is learned, and can be unlearned."[4] I agree much more with this idea. The people who work closely with child sex offenders have a much better grasp, in my opinion, than those who conduct research in a lab for a certain span of time. Those who interact with sexual offenders on a daily basis are able to see and hear the things pedophiles do and say – this is much more “evidence/research” than what someone studying brain waves in a lab can say for the matter.

What are your thoughts? Is pedophilia "learned behaviour" or is it a "sexual orientation"?

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