They look like you and me. Sex offenders are normal looking people. It can be your doorman, your doctor, the gardener, your coworker, or even that cousin you see at weddings. They’re someone’s family, friends, or relatives. It’s a sad thing to admit that and live with fear. By learning about the smart way to educate your children and spread awareness, you get a chance to protect your kids. But you might as well wonder, what else is there to learn about to help us with this situation? Maybe we can start by wondering: what makes a pedophile?
Based on The National Council For Childhood & Motherhood of Egypt; in 2020, there have been 11,000 reported physical and sexual assault on kids, according to El Bawabah News. According to El Balad, 18% of assaults on children are sexual assaults. So obviously it is an important topic to discuss, especially regarding the assault caught on camera that happened recently in Maadi.
There are two types of sex offenders. One is a pedophile, and another is opportunistic. A pedophile is sexually attracted to children. However, the opportunistic doesn’t focus on sexual attraction. He/she focus more on circumstances, such as the availability of a child victim and about control, according to Psychiatric Times.
What is pedophilia, though?
It’s a disease; a psychiatric disorder. Based on Psychiatric Times, pedophilia is: recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving activity with a prepubescent child or children (generally 13 years or younger). They also need to persist for at least 6 months. It’s not easy to diagnose though, given that people would not self-report due to the harms it causes the diseased. Consequently, the individual must act on their sexual urges to be diagnosed, or also suffer from distress and an inability to function normally in their daily life from the urges, according to Psychology Today.
What makes a pedophile?
It’s a complex and layered topic. There are multiple factors that play a part in what creates a pedophile. Based on Psych Central, there are 3 factors: neurological factors, environmental factors, and developmental factors. The neurological factors are pretty easy to understand. Their brains are wired that way. They are chemically and anatomically deformed; with cognitive distortions and psychopathy, based on Psychiatric Times.
The childhood of a future pedophile contains the environmental factors that would affect him/her. It’s believed that people who have been sexually abused as children are more likely to grow up to commit sex offences. Based on Psychiatric Times, men who had reported multiple events of sexual contact in their own childhood, were almost 40 times more likely to report having sexual contact with children 13 years and younger, than men who reported no sexual abuse in childhood. It might be because they lacked the ability to control the situation as children when they were abused. Consequently, by sexually assaulting children, pedophiles attempt to re-live the trauma they experienced and they learn how to master it, according to Neuro Anthropology.
Because a much smaller percent of sexually abused women grow up to be sex offenders, that doesn’t have to be true. According to Neuro Anthropology, traumatizing experiences during childhood have been suffered by child sex abusers.
Regarding the developmental factors that studies have proven to create a sex offender towards children, is stress during childhood. Childhood stress might have regressed their development, making them unable to develop properly, and they get stuck at a certain stage of development mentally. Meanwhile, their hormones and physical bodies mature. Because of this conflict, the adult-child that the pedophile has grown up to become, still relates to children better than adults, according to Psych Central.
Can it be treated?
Not all sex offenders are actually pedophiles with an imbalance in their brains. Some are just acting on impulse, and for those that are actually ill; it’s not easy to be cured. The therapy process can go on for decades. They must work on reducing pedophilic sex drive, increase age-appropriate sexual behavior, and strengthen inhibition of pedophilic behavior. Based on Psychiatric Times, treatment of pedophilia is most effective when it is multimodal, long-term, and perhaps court mandated.
Now that we all know more or less what pedophilia is, and what makes people pedophiles, we can make more sound judgments on how to end this, or deal with it. Some people are diseased, but they don’t act on it, whilst others commit horrifying crimes, traumatizing others like what has been done to them. Spreading awareness about this will protect your children, and help them have a more positive childhood to grow up as healthier individuals.