Updated: Aug 5, 2019
Pedophiles come in all shapes and from all strata of society. There should be no belief that there is safety in the upper-class, professions, politicians or religious leaders as there is, similarly, no more confidence that persons in any other classes of our culture would not be an offender. The questions that must be examined, therefore, are how this is possible, what are the driving forces behind this deviance and is there a solution. All these questions require answers because the public wants and needs some assurance that they can recognize these offenders and protect their children from them.
Unfortunately, the end result is that we cannot easily single them out, nor can they be effectively treated without a strong will of their own not to re-offend. Watch the film, The Woodsman, starring Kevin Bacon.
The Jeffrey Epstein case has ripped the veneer off the rich and powerful, but hasn’t that happened before and how did we fail to educate ourselves? Slipping back into the mindless belief that the powerful, in whatever position in our society, are immune to pedophilia, we have allowed ourselves to be lulled into a false sense of confidence once again.
In the case of Epstein, he was not a known figure to the majority of people in the US or the world, living as he did within a globe-trotting, jet-setting cocoon in the world of the glitterati. However, in the UK, the case of Jimmy Savile (2016) created an uproar when the well-known and beloved TV children’s show host was accused of pedophilic actions and child rape of an 8-year-old. Scores of children were alleged to have been abused by the TV personality. The contention in the media was that he had been protected by a complacent media and, possibly, highly placed friends.
We have also not considered that, although small in known numbers, pedophilia is present in women. “Most sexual offenders against children are male, although female offenders may account for 0.4% to 4% of convicted sexual offenders.” A study in Great Britain found that women also sexually abused children in faith-based institutions.
How many men and women have been revealed to be offenders? I will dismiss the horrific assertions and destructive “evidence” in the infamous McMartin case. The family running the pre-school program was accused of everything from sexual abuse of children to something tantamount to Satanic rituals with the students.
Wasn’t the revelation that leaders in the Boy Scouts were pedophiles enough? Weren’t the religious leaders who were unmasked sufficient to strengthen our mental walls against our naivete and lead us to always question activities between children and “caring” adults? Are we so desperate to believe that we can “tell a book by its cover” that we bought into this tattered belief once again shrugging it off as an anomaly in one group? Pedophile priests were brought into people’s homes as honored guests as these same priests defiled their children in the night as did school coaches and even pediatricians.
Pedophilia carries with it incredible stigma and has become a demonizing term for anyone who may be associated with this disorder. However, there are distinctions between what is known as a Pedophilic Disorder and Pedophilia in general.
Pedophilia, which is indicated in the DSM–5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition) states that this individual has "acted on sexual urges.” The term, therefore, is used for those who have physically molested a child, but there are those who have fantasies, a.k.a. pedophilia fantasies, where they have viewed child pornography or masturbated during these fantasies. These individuals, diagnosed as having Pedophilic Disorder, have never molested a child as the others have.
Again, there are two distinctly different types of Pedophilia; men who are heterosexual in orientation and who are offending prepubescent females and men who are homosexual in orientation and who have as their victims pre-pubescent boys.
An editorial in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law indicates that some research has indicated problems in offending and consequently discerning who has a Pedophilic Disorder and who does not. It was determined, in one study of 231 men who viewed pornographic material containing children and had never abused a child, that less than 1% of them went on to commit what is known as a hands-on sexual offense.
However, we must consider this is a small sample, one study and may not characterize the whole picture of potential offenders. Research has shown that some persons who have been peeping toms, may go on to escalate their activity from looking in windows to actually raping women but not all peeping toms become rapists. However, the converse is true; all rapists were peeping toms. Studies cannot provide the assurance that we would wish, but as the professional editorial points out, we should not jump to conclusions from one piece of evidence alone.
What is the life path of persons who go on to exhibit Pedophilia? It emerges before or during puberty, according to Cutler. What are the main characteristics of a pedophile?
Pedophiles are not necessarily persons who were sexually abused as children. Potentially, this thinking that children who have been sexually abused go on to be sexual abusers in later life has been found to be inaccurate.
Some research indicates that pedophiles have had poor supervision as children, however, abuse by females also has been a contributory factor as well as co-morbid personality characteristics, including grandiosity, attention-seeking, emotionally manipulative behavior with a degree of anxiety. It is understandable that an adult who is uncomfortable in the company of peers might seek out sexual activities with someone less secure, less mature and, therefore, vulnerable and less able to question their motives, a child.
Pedophiles “hide out” in plain sight and when their pathology is combined with a cunning ability to use adults to gain their ends, they can be safe from discovery. The alleged facts that have come to the surface thus far in the Epstein case would indicate many of these factors all coming together to protect and insure a lifestyle of deviant behavior in numerous people. The curious thing about Epstein is that he was a chubby, somewhat awkward student in his younger grades, who never got a college degree and lacked the skills he would later develop to ingratiate himself to the rich and powerful.
Another notorious case that continued for years was that of the Penn State athletic coach, Jerry Sandusky. It had been charged that he, too, was enabled by an administrative structure that was focused on winning accolades and keeping alumni money flowing in for the maintenance of the school’s athletic programs.
Uncovering the well-protected life of pedophiles with friends in power has proven deadly and may have been the reason for the deaths of several journalists and at least one book author. Is murder beyond reason when one’s entire life is on line and is either a politician or a high-rolling entrepreneur?
Pedophilia and DSM-5: The importance of clearly defining the nature of a pedophilic disorder. http://jaapl.org/content/42/4/404
Decoding Jeffrey Epstein’s Mysterious, Star-Studded Black Book. https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/07/jeffrey-epstein-black-book-nick-bryant
Endrass, Jérôme, Frank Urbaniok, Lea C. Hammermeister, Christian Benz, and Thomas Elbert et al. "The Consumption of Internet Child Pornography and Violent and Sex Offending." BMC Psychiatry 9, no. 1 (2009).
Cohen, Lisa J.; Galynker, Igor (June 8, 2009). "Psychopathology and Personality Traits of Pedophiles". Psychiatric Times. Retrieved March 7, 2014.
Goodwin, Jean, and Peter Divasto. "Mother-daughter Incest." Child Abuse & Neglect 3, no. 3-4 (1979): 953-57. doi:10.1016/0145-2134(79)90132-7.
"Adult Female Sexual Offending: A Comparison between Co-offenders and Solo Offenders in a Dutch Sample." Taylor & Francis. Accessed July 19, 2019. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13552600.2010.544414.