We have a real opportunity to reduce child sexual abuse

Posted: April 22, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

The internet does a lot of cool things and a lot of terrible things.

One of each of those types of things relates to child pornography. Obviously the internet has allowed for better proliferation of child pornography. (It may have even allowed for better detection of child pornography, too)

But the really cool thing that’s beginning to pop up are support groups for paedophiles. Why is this so good?  I hear some of you asking. Surely these people are monsters? Well, because it’s an inkling of a hope that this might give us new ways to prevent child sexual abuse, and the data we’re beginning to get from studying support groups that take a moral stance on paedophilia, (ie. paedophiles who say that actually abusing kids is wrong) indicates that we can use this as a way to improve treatment.

The internet provides an anonymous medium where people can go to talk about attraction to children without necessarily risking discovery. For those who have committed abuse and use anonymity as a shelter to discuss abuse, that’s obviously terrible. But there’s a chance here- not all people who are attracted to kids are attracted only to kids. By reaching out to those individuals and studying them – which has not been done before, we could come up with intervention plans that could potentially cure or at least identify a sustainable treatment plan for so-called “exclusive paedophiles” who also experience more normal sexual attraction.

People have demonised attempts to ethically and safely research paedophiles who have not committed child abuse as paedophile sympathising. That’s ridiculous. Clearly understanding more about the development of attraction to children, what might cause it, etc… can all contribute to the prevention equation.

Also it can help develop trust between these people and a responsible therapist, who can help monitor them and hold them to account, who can help them have a fulfilling life in an area where they’re well-isolated from children, and maybe even have a normal (, childless) relationship.

Of course, such research would need funding, which could be a potential PR bomb. If someone were really interested in defending young children, they WOULD risk the PR bomb, and announce what they’re doing aggressively, to try and shame up more funding. I hope someone in the corporate world hears about this issue and comes up with the same strategy.

The other opportunity we have is to start building a world of people who could have been child sexual abusers, that aren’t, and who come out to people they can trust, building accountability networks that will stop them from offending. If we can build good practice guidelines internationally about what to do with self-reported paedophiles who have not committed abuse, that would be a Big Thing™.

And maybe, in the very distant future, even being able to come out publicly as having been in this situation, and transitioned through it. Can you imagine how much harm we’d stop if a confused 16-yearold whose feelings for younger kids isn’t going away can hear that they don’t have to be seen as a monster, that if they get help from someone qualified, they can manage their feelings without harming anyone? Because I can, and that world would be fucking excellent.

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