No subject generates more strongly held opinions and fewer facts than pedophilia, not only in the correctional system but in society outside the walls. As their numbers grow, pedophiles begin to rep-resent a major issue for prisons. Between 1988 and 1990, the child molester population increased by 48 percent. Today, 43,522 child molesters are in state prisons. In some state systems, one-third of inmates are sex offenders, two-thirds of whom committed their crimes against children. The issue is far larger in society as a whole because 80 percent of convicted child molesters serve no prison time and therefore remain in the community. Very few of the remaining 20 percent receive sentences of more than one year.
What is Pedophilia?
Pedophilia is a sexual orientation, just like heterosexuality or homosexuality. It involves a sexual attraction to children, with an erotic arousal pattern and fantasy life centered on them. Just as males who prefer women as sexual partners do not choose to be this way, pedophiles do not ask to be sexually attracted to children. In fact, neither group has a choice. For most pedophiles, their condition is a curse which can destroy their lives, sometimes leading to decades of imprisonment. At other times, it ruins their careers, friendships and standings in the community.
The pedophile's sexual behavior is a heinous crime perpetrated against helpless victims, who in many cases, experience trauma and lasting psychological and interpersonal consequences. Just as no therapy is likely to change the sexual orientation of a woman who prefers a man, it is improbable that therapy will change the desire of a pedophile for a child.
Researchers know little about pedophilia's causes. Early sexual exposure, sexual abuse, certain biological pathologies (e.g. Klinefelter's syndrome or hermaphroditism), hormonal abnormalities, imprinting (the critical time in an animal's development when stimuli become capable of eliciting mate behavior), genetic defects, hypersexuality, specific mental illnesses and structural brain damage may be causes or contributing factors.
Pedophilia takes many forms, and there are different systems of classification for each. Pedophiles can be homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual or incestuous. Some prefer children within narrowly defined age ranges.
Incarcerated pedophiles come from all walks of life, including Nobel Prize winners, clergymen, teachers, Boy Scout leaders, members of Big Brothers, child psychologists, child psychiatrists, correctional officers in juvenile facilities, police officers, adult bookstore clerks, roofers, air conditioning mechanics, the unemployed, welfare recipients, ad infinitum. They vary tremendously in many other respects, too, such as personality dynamics, prognosis for treatment, types of sexual preferences among children, number of victims, education and criminal records. Recognizing...