Pedophilia is a difficult topic, fraught with horrific physical, mental and emotional scars for the children and their families, who have been victim to an adult’s destructive predilections. Sexual acts perpetrated upon smaller, innocent children can remain hidden for years, which only adds fuel to the fire. The fear, trauma, threats, shame and blame laid on the victim contribute to the veil of secrecy. The perpetrator may work for years to make him or herself a solid, upstanding citizen, so accusations are difficult.
When we consider the Roman Catholic Church, Penn State’s Jerry Sandusky and the BBC’s beloved Jimmy Savile, an institutional silence abounded for years, while pedophiles continued to harm their victims with impunity. What did Anthony Weiner’s laptop really show? Is Pizzagate just another one of those fake news conspiracy theory reports?
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), pedophilia is an “intense and recurrent sexual interest in prepubescent children.” The DSM calls this a disorder if it causes “marked distress or interpersonal difficulty,” or if the person acts on these desires.
The New York Times says that society should understand that not all pedophiles act on their feelings. (There’s even a group calling themselves Virtuous Pedophiles.) Pedophilia, says The Times, is a mental illness. Recent research points to a neurological basis, which means being a pedophile is not a choice. They suggest that more people understand that the disorder called pedophilia is not the same as child molestation. And our society should be more understanding about treatment before, not after, an assault occurs.
There are a number of other suggestions made by Margo Kaplan, the author of the article, who is an assistant law professor at Rutgers University, and as such, concentrates on how she feels the law is skewed against pedophiles, especially in the area of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. This Act prohibits discrimination against “qualified individuals with mental disabilities,” but pedophiles are excluded from protections. It’s difficult to gauge how Ms. Kaplan and The Times are positioning themselves on this issue. If pedophilia is generally accepted as a mental disorder, does that mean the act committed against a child is not a crime?
One thing we do know: The act of pedophilia goes on around the globe. And it has harmed millions of innocent children, as this report from North West Liberty attests.