CLogo Pamphlet: Understanding Pedophilia

This pamphlet is provided free of charge by the CLogo team.

Table of Contents

1 - Preface ........ 2

2 - Pedophilia ........ 3

3 - Two Kinds of Pedophiles ........ 4

3.1 - Self-Oriented Pedophiles ........ 4

3.2 - Child-Oriented Pedophiles ........ 5

4 - Questions ........ 6

4.1 - Can I Recognize Pedophiles? ........ 6

4.2 - Can Pedophiles Be Cured? ........ 6

4.3 - What Attracts Pedophiles to Children? ........ 7

4.4 - How Many Pedophiles Are There? ........ 7

5 - Myths ........ 8

5.1 - Myth: Children Don’t Like Sex ........ 8

5.2 - Myth: Children Will Become Homosexual ........ 8

5.3 - Myth: Pedophiles Always Misuse Their Power ........ 9

5.4 - Myth: Sexual Experiences Always Cause Harm ........ 9

6 - Message to Parents ........ 10

7 - Research ........ 11

7.1 - Difficulties Obtaining Data ........ 11

7.2 - Negative Experiences ........ 12

7.3 - Pedophiles’ Characteristics ........ 13

8 - Message to Pedophiles ........ 14

8.1 - Four Main Guidelines ........ 15

8.2 - Openness Towards the Parents ........ 15

9 - Bibliography ........ 16

1 - Preface

Deprivation of sensory stimuli like voice and vision in the early phases of human life are known to cause irreversible mental retardation in the child. Also the restriction of child play will cause intellectual deficits in the adult.

However, eyes, ears and the nose are not the only human sensors. Additionally, there are the two body sensor systems, the ‘somatosensors’. One is the balance organ for maintaining orientation and upright walk. The other one is the skin, for sensing touch.

Through the work of James W. Prescott, Ph.D. and various others until the mid 1970s it was established that these previously neglected senses are of overwhelming importance for the development of social abilities. Their deprivation in childhood is a major cause for adult violence. Various scientists have documented the importance of touch, movement, affection and sexual freedom for the development of children and juveniles into healthy and peaceful adults. Deprivation of physical affection is considered a main cause of depression, aggression and drug abuse.

Fear of pedophilia and pedophiles unfortunately causes most people to deny the importance of affectionate relationships in youth for peaceful and loving behavior. Partly, this fear is valid, but it is inappropriate to consider anything sexual or any physical affection by 'strangers’ a risk to children. This pamphlet is spread all over the world by people who share the hope that more insight into pedophilia and pedophiles and a more realistic attitude towards pedophilia will contribute to a more peaceful world. We encourage everyone who agrees with the content of this pamphlet to spread it.

2 - Pedophilia

Through the years, a social process has shifted the meaning of the word pedophilia. While it used to denote loving children, today it implies at least an aspect of sexuality. Today, pedophilia can best be defined as feeling mainly attracted, including sexually, to prepubescent children of either or both sexes. Note that this attraction (or preference) does not imply an action. It is certainly not an extreme urge against which resistance is impossible. The term pedophilia may include erotic, aesthetic, emotional and spiritual aspects. However, it remains a onesided concept, since it only refers to the adult.

Most pedophiles are oriented toward either boys or girls, while bisexual pedophiles seem to represent a minority among them. Most prefer a certain age group.

Some pedophiles feel different from other adults, because they treat children more as peers. They believe some adults regard children as inferior and do not listen carefully enough to them: to educate children, such adults frequently force them to do things with little regard for the child’s feelings and opinions. Pedophiles who have this concern would like to grant children the right to make up their own minds, including in the area of sexuality.

Most pedophiles who have become aware of their unusual feelings for children are initially confused about what is happening to them. Are they about to become as evil as these pedophile rapists they hear about in the media? Their struggle might end if they realize that not all pedophiles are monsters and there are two kinds of pedophiles.

3 - Two kinds of pedophiles

Even though all pedophiles are different, it is possible to make a broad distinction between two kinds of pedophiles:

  • self-oriented pedophiles, who are either aggressive-sadistical or see children as their only way to sexual satisfaction, 
  • child-oriented pedophiles, for whom the feelings of the child are of essential importance

3.1 - Self-Oriented Pedophiles

Self-oriented pedophiles are either aggressive-sadistical or see children as their only way to sexual satisfaction. Most have not tried to face and accept their unusual feelings for children. Because of fear, they have repressed these feelings. This makes them a potential danger to others, including children and themselves. They have not learned to cope with their feelings for children; what remains is an obsessive lust for children which may result in compulsive acts, without self-control.

In a contact between a child and a self-oriented pedophile, there may be violence, the threat of violence, deception, emotional blackmail, assault and rape. This type of pedophile is merely focused on sexual gratification.

In these contacts, the lust of the adult is the only measure applied for basing action upon. The child is seen as a passive partner and an (occasional) sex object. It is usually impossible for the child to withdraw from sexual activities if the child wants to. Self-oriented pedophiles exploit feelings of shame on the part of the child and use these to enforce secrecy. In the oppressive atmosphere, the child will experience no safety, but instead will feel only fear and aversion.

3.2 - Child-Oriented Pedophiles

For child-oriented pedophiles, the feelings of the child are of essential importance. They have an inner balance, because they have learned to accept or are willing to accept their feelings for children as a part of themselves. Thus they will be able to integrate these emotions and cope with them in a better way.

A relationship between a child and a child-oriented pedophile is not only focused on erotic/sexual contacts. The adult has a sincere interest in the feelings, thoughts and experiences of the child and wants the relationship to be a valuable supplement to the child’s life. In these relationships, the adult expresses an interest in the child’s world. There is common ground, even if the contact is only a single event. Spontaneity and friendship may be enjoyed together.

Even though most child-oriented pedophiles have sexual fantasies about children, their actions are not primarily sexually driven and they condemn all forms of non-voluntary sexual contact. To indicate this more clearly, some child-oriented pedophiles call themselves “child lovers”, “boy lovers” or “girl lovers”.

As the child grows older, the desire of both the child and the adult for an intimate friendship (or at least for the sexual component) usually decreases gradually. The teen may fall in love with a peer and may become less attractive to the adult. The teen is usually not discarded carelessly. Physical intimacy - if there was any - may no longer be part of the relationship, but there may remain a long-lasting friendship.

4 - Questions

Over the next two pages, four of the most common questions about pedophilia and pedophiles will be addressed.

4.1 - Can I Recognize Pedophiles?

No, it is not possible to recognize pedophiles just by looking at their appearance. Pedophiles are not (just) old, dirty men. Self-oriented pedophiles are mostly men, who are either aggressive-sadistical by character or who see children as their only way to sexual satisfaction. The latter may result in (incestual) rape.

Child-oriented pedophiles can be male or female, heterosexual or homosexual, and young or old. Just like self-oriented pedophiles, they can be of any race, nationality and socioeconomic class.

‘Pro-pedophilia’ activism however, is primarily engaged in by male homosexual pedophiles. They feel oppressed the most, since homosexuality is still often considered morally wrong, and society mostly fears sexual assault by men.

4.2 - Can Pedophiles Be Cured?

That depends. It is not possible to change the main sexual orientation of pedophiles, but especially self-oriented pedophiles can learn to integrate their feelings for children and regain self-control. They still have to take the first step of no longer repressing their own feelings, but instead to face and accept these as a part of themselves. Nor will enforced 'treatment’ be able to change the sexual orientation. This results in destroying the patient’s self-respect.

4.3 - What Attracts Pedophiles to Children?

Most pedophiles are not sure what causes their attraction and they don’t seem to think it’s essential either. In trying to answer this question, most pedophiles will focus on whether their feelings for children are genetic or developmental, or a combination of both. They may ask counter questions, such as: “Why are heterosexuals attracted to the opposite sex?” and “Why do homosexuals prefer their own sex?”.

Some pedophiles see children as pure and 'unspoiled’ by the world at large. They are delighted to see children enjoying things that have lost meaning to adults. For most, relationships rather than purely sexual encounters with children are the most valuable aim. Pedophiles like children’s open-mindedness, enthusiasm, kindness, flexibility, honesty, spontaneity, cordiality and beauty. The latter may also sexually arouse pedophiles.

4.4 - How Many Pedophiles Are There?

No one knows. Most estimates are based on pedophiles who find themselves in legal trouble or who apply for psychiatric or psychological help, which clearly results in a biased sample.

The taboo on pedophilia makes it impossible to count pedophiles, because most of them will deny their feelings for children during an interview. Some self-oriented pedophiles are not even honest to themselves.

5 - Myths

On the next two pages, four of the most common myths about pedophilia and pedophiles will be discussed.

5.1 - Myth: Children Don’t Like Sex

Children are sexual beings by nature. Self-exploration and masturbation is common among children. Most young children deliberately play with their genitals for pleasure. Little boys may rhythmically rub or pull their penises and little girls may rub themselves, squeeze their legs together, and sometimes even insert objects into their vaginas. Even though masturbation with the conscious goal of orgasm usually begins during puberty and younger children do not understand all aspects of it, children of any age can enjoy sex for various reasons.

Because of the strong influence of conditioning in sexual matters, when asked about sex, children will usually lie or just keep silent. If it concerns a sexual experience with an adult, one cannot naively assume the child would invariably speak the truth.

5.2 - Myth: Children Will Become Homosexual

Some people still consider homosexual development to be a likely result of a homosexual encounter or relationship in youth with a pedophile. They seem to consider homosexuality morally wrong.

A homosexual or heterosexual inclination cannot be traced back or essentially reduced to an experience with a pedophile in childhood. Among people with and people without these experiences, one will find a comparable percentage of heterosexuals.

5.3 - Myth: Pedophiles Always Misuse Their Power

In every relationship, there will be a difference in characters, background, knowledge, interests, desires, age, power, and so on. Despite these differences, both partners may experience their relationship as pleasant and valuable, as long as there is mutual respect and true love.

In any relationship between a child and an adult, there is a difference in power, both physically and mentally. The same goes for relationships between children and pedophiles. However, this does not necessarily result in usage or misusage of power.

5.4 - Myth: Sexual Experiences Always Cause Harm

Some children have undeniably been harmed by their sexual experiences. On the other hand, and fortunately, not every child who has a sexual relationship is harmed by it. Whether or not the child will be harmed by a relationship with a pedophile depends on several factors.

Losing control over one’s body may cause severe psychological damage. So may enforcing secrecy, which may result in feelings of guilt or even depression and stress.

It mostly depends on the carefulness of the adult, because any sexual play should be in harmony with the child’s level of psycho-sexual and physical development. (Likewise, other aspects of a relationship should be in harmony with the development of the child.) If the child consented to sexual play, experienced it as pleasurable and felt that she or he had the freedom to withdraw at any moment, the experience will rarely be harmful.

6 - Message to Parents

Candid and clear sex education and information is an important aspect of a child’s upbringing. Ignorance makes children curious and sneaky. Being open about sexuality towards your children may prevent possible complications. It will be easier for your children to be honest about their sexual ideas and feelings, because then sexuality will not be an unbearably loaded or absurdly special topic.

Self-exploration and masturbation is common among children. It is important not to cause your children to feel shy or ashamed about their sexual exploration. It is equally important to emphasize that there is a time and place for everything. If your child masturbates in public, try not to scold or act disgusted, but explain to your child it is something nice, but private.

Masturbation is a completely healthy part of growing up. It is possible that you will suddenly be confronted with a friendship between your child and an adult. Of course, this friendship will raise several questions. Is my child looking for more love and affection? Who is this older person and what is her or his influence on my child? These and other questions are understandable concerns of parents who really care for their child. You might become angry, deeply indignant or panicked by the discovery of a relationship.

Even though immediately calling the police is usually not a good idea, it certainly is time for you to take action. Try to find out what kind of person the adult is and what her or his intentions are. Try to find out how your child is experiencing the relationship. If the person is using psychological or physical violence towards your child, notify the police at once. If the person is a child-oriented pedophile who really cares for your child, clarify what limits you want there to be and make sure you remain aware about developments in the relationship.

7 - Research

Since quite some time, research has been carried out into the sexual experiences of children and their possible consequences (see the bibliography on page 16). However, this is a difficult research area, because objective facts will easily collide with prejudice and beliefs about morality. These beliefs frequently cause people to label every sexual experience of children as ‘abuse’. For this reason it is not surprising that research and factual data can be used to argue that there is more abuse than there might actually be, depending on the definitions given for 'children’, 'sexual behavior’ and 'harmful behavior’.

7.1 - Difficulties Obtaining Data

Much research is conducted in psychiatric and other clinical settings. Further, much research focuses on people who claim harmful consequences from youthful sexual experience, while people who feel they have been enriched by such experiences rarely have channels open to researchers, or do not want to be open about feelings, ideas and experiences society says cannot exist or must be wrong.

Often, mental problems are directly and exclusively ascribed by researchers to youthful sexual experience. When a troubled person is found out to have had such experience, a causal relationship is often assumed instantly and other possible sources of harm are ignored.

Involving pedophiles in research in a balanced way is equally problematic. Most research involving pedophiles is carried out in clinics and prisons. It is predictable that 'the pedophile’ will then seem to be a very troubled type of human being.

Pedophiles who may not have mental problems and who do not suffer the trauma of an arrest and incarceration virtually cannot be reached by researchers. Despite the imbalance, 'clinical and forensic’ research has become the standard by which theories about pedophilia are measured and by which profiles are drawn up about pedophilia and 'the pedophile’ in general.

It is such research that is used for theory framing, classroom instruction, police instruction, treatment strategies, and policy-making. Public opinion is reinforced by this kind of research.

Reality can only be disclosed by researching the general population and not only those people who have problems.

7.2 - Negative Experiences

Estimates of the percentage of people who are permanently harmed by sexual experience as a child vary widely. Research which does not in advance define every sexual experience of children as 'abuse’ and which asks people how they actually experienced the sexual events is the most interesting. It turns out that there are two main factors that cause people to view the sexual event as negative:

  • coercion plays an important role: the more coercion, the more risk of harm; the less coercion, the less risk of harm. It turns out that coercion invokes more harm than the actual sexual event itself,
  • family environment plays another important role: its effect on a persons later well-being is much higher than the effect of sexual experiences. Maltreatment, neglect, poverty and so on heavily influence the child’s general feeling of well-being.

If these factors are taken into account, the correlation between effect size of early sexual experiences and later problems nearly disappears for boys and remains for one percent of girls with such experiences.

7.3 - Pedophiles’ Characteristics

Despite the difficulties, there does exist research involving pedophiles who were in a relationship with a child (current or not current at the time of research) and who were not in legal trouble or in any sort of treatment. A remaining limitation is of course that only people who are aware of their pedophilic feelings and openly admit them - at least to researchers - can be interviewed.

A variety of personality tests performed by child-oriented pedophiles show little differences with the general population. This applies to both neurological and psychological research. As far as these differences are significant, they are only small and may not be pathological, rather variants within the normal range.

Some differences have been found. The pedophile appears to be a somewhat shy person who was somewhat lonely in her or his childhood. Contrary to what most people seem to think, many pedophiles do not have an extreme urge for sex, their urge is comparatively small. They are not inclined to competing with other men and women and show little aggression. Rather, they are strikingly sensitive.

A somewhat higher degree of psychological complaints and stress should be seen as a result of their feelings for children and the animosity of society at large, not as causing their feelings.

8 - Message to pedophiles

Little is known to be as difficult as not being able to prove your love. How to deal with these unusual feelings for children? As you already may have found out, there is no simple answer to this question.

Some pedophiles buy dolls that are very lifelike, some choose a variety of occupations that allow them to care for children and some look for adult partners who are very youthful in their looks and manners. For sexual gratification, many pedophiles restrict themselves to masturbation, for which they may use fantasies and stories of a pedophilic nature. There is one great mistake you can make. You may think you created your feelings and desires in the first place and you may want to overcome them by trying to avoid any contact with children. But by repressing your feelings, you will never learn to integrate these feelings for children. This will make you a potential danger to others, including children and yourself, because all that remains is an obsessive lust for children, which could cause you to lose self-control.

The first step in the right direction is the opposite: to accept your feelings for children as a part of yourself and to deal with them the best you can. Recreational activities and friendship with children are very well possible. Meeting children who share your hobby (in sports, music, arts, collecting things) at a club or collectors’ market may be a good solution for you. This contact is quite natural, because the central focus is on the activity and not on the child.

Talking about your feelings with peers might be a good idea. If you decide to look for help from a psychiatrist or sexologist, only accept it from those who agree it’s better to accept than to repress your feelings.

8.1 - Four Main Guidelines

Right now, all laws regarding sex in child-adult relationships focus on an age of consent, which differs per country and may be different for homosexuals and heterosexuals. However, more and more researchers tend to agree that the right to self-determination should be the essential starting point for new sex crime laws.

These laws would not only make it easier to protect children from the violence and obsessive lust of self-oriented pedophiles. They would also give children and child-oriented pedophiles the freedom to explore their sexuality in healthy relationships, as long as these are in accordance with four main guidelines, or conditions.

  • 1. consent of both child and adult,
  • 2. freedom for the child to withdraw from the relationship at any moment,
  • 3. harmony with the child's level of psycho-sexual and physical development,
  • 4. openness towards the parents of the child

8.2 - Openness Towards the Parents

In most societies, pedophilia is an emotionally charged concept. Because of the many prejudices, pedophiles will be afraid to be open about a (sexual) relationship towards the child’s parents. Nonetheless, openness is a crucial condition. Children should always be protected from self-oriented pedophiles. A child’s parents should be able to determine to what extent the three other guidelines are being respected. Your feelings are private, but your actions are not. The parents of the child have the right to know what you are up to with their child... and what their child is up to with you.

9 - Bibliography

Archives of Sexual Behavior, December 2002, special issue about pedophilia

Bauserman, R. & Rind, B., Psychological Correlates of Male Child and Adolescent Sexual Experiences with Adults: A Review of the Nonclinical Literature, Archives of Sexual Behavior, vol. 26, no. 2, 1997

Bernard, F., Paedophilia: A Factual Report, Enclave, Rotterdam, 1985

Howitt, D., Paedophiles and sexual offences against children, John Wiley & Sons, Wiley, Chichester, 1995

Kirkegaard, H. & Northey, W., The Sex Offender as Scapegoat: Vigilante Violence and a Faith Community Response

Prescott, J. W., Body pleasure and the origins of violence, The Bulletin of The Atomic Scientists, November 1975, pp. 10-20

Randall, J. L., Childhood and Sexuality: A Radical Christian Approach, Pittsburgh: Dorrance, 1991

Rind, B. & Tromovitch, P., A Meta-Analytic Review of Findings from National Samples on Psychological Correlates of Child Sexual Abuse, The Journal of Sex Research, vol. 34, no.3, 1997, pp. 237-255

Rind, B., Bauserman, R. & Tromovitch, Ph., An Examination of Assumed Properties of Child Sexual Abuse Based on Nonclinical Samples, Paper presented to the symposium sponsored by the Pauluskerk, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, on the 18th of December 1998

Rind, B., Tromovitch, Ph. & Bauserman, R., A Meta-Analytic Examination of Assumed Properties of Child Sexual Abuse Using College Samples, Psychological Bulletin 1998, vol. 124, no. 1, pp. 22-53

Tromovitch, Ph., Rind, B. & Bauserman, R., Adult Correlates of Child Sexual Abuse: A meta-analytic review of college student and national probability samples, SSSS-ER April 18, 1997

Wilson, G. D. & Cox, D. N., The Child-Lovers, A Study of Paedophiles in Society,