Pedophiles hide in plain view.
In most cases, children are molested by family members and close friends. The perpetrator is commonly someone a parent or child knows and trusts.
Pedophiles are priests, teachers, youth pastors, grandfathers, boyfriends, scout leaders, church camp leaders, police officers and fathers. They are difficult to detect and prosecute because they live two lives, a public respected one and a dark dangerous life of sexual violence against children. They are highly believable cunning pathological liars. They are psychopaths.
Are pedophiles mentally ill? YES
Pedophiles are psychopathic individuals in all societies and all professions who fake emotions, lack empathy for their victims and focus on secret sexual fantasies with children. They silence child victims with fear. Often, after a child has the courage to disclose abuse, the reports are not believed by parents or guardians. When a child is not believed, he or she is abandoned to the abuser…and the abuse continues.
Pedophilia is a Paraphilia – as listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV-TR) TR=text revision. This is a manual used by professionals to clarify classifications and definitions of clinical psychiatric abnormalities. Pedophiles are not psychotic, they don’t hear voices or have hallucinations. They have the ability to function in all levels of society in all occupations, though most seek positions of power that bring them close to children. They are predators, watching, lying-in-wait, ready to act out fantasies when they are unlikely to be detected.
In the animal world, a predator lives by feeding on smaller, weaker or maimed animals. Human predators behave the same way. They prey on vulnerable victims for perverse sexual enjoyment. Imagine a cat that catches a mouse and plays with it, pouncing, tossing, injuring and enjoying every minute. In the final act, the helpless creature lies dead. Human predators look upon their victims much like a cat. Victims are toys they perceive as disposable. Predators have no remorse.
Pedophiles preferentially target prepubescent children for sexual gratification. Instead of normal development evolving at puberty in combination with sexual interest occurring in the company of a similar aged person, the pedophile is sexually aroused by children. This sexual preference for children begins in early adolescence and lasts throughout life. It is incurable.
No one knows why this aberrant behavior evolves. Sexual offenders often claim they were abused as children and use it as the reason for their behavior. There is no excuse. Most raped and abused children do not become abusers themselves. Some follow the “cycle of abuse” identified in victims of violence who themselves act out in violence, but most do not.
There is no excuse for sexual violence against any individual. The recent Cleveland crime case of abduction and sexual violence, intimidation and control of young women is appalling. The perpetrator is a violent sexual predator who targeted young women, experiencing sexual gratification through violence and control. This scenario is a warning to all of us to be more aware of actions of others and willing to intervene immediately if clues to abnormal situations or behaviors surface. Predators must be prosecuted.
If you believe a child is being victimized, report to both child protective services and to law enforcement. It is better to report and be in error than to have a child continue to be harmed. If you believe someone of any age is at risk, report the situation to law enforcement. Don’t give up. You may save a life.
The following are general descriptions taken from many sources which correlate with pedophile behavior. If identified as single actions, they should not be considered reasons to notify authorities. This is an overview of findings documented by researchers and law enforcement in pedophiles who have been apprehended.
Pedophiles are adept liars
Strive to be alone with kids
Males of any age, few or no friends his age, no close friends
Seek prolonged access to children through work & volunteer jobs
Sympathetic listeners who target troubled or withdrawn children
Decorate area or room in a child’s theme, collects toys
Collects theme pornography as a fantasy-driven behavior
Collects “paraphernalia” to remind them of their sexual desires
Saves souvenirs from encounters such as photos
Tapes TV programs or buys videos (ex. boys’ workout tape)
Boys mingling with younger children–a red flag
Single men, live with their parents, don’t date, target children
Shy, uncommunicative, backward, with poor interpersonal skills
Volatile, withdrawn or hostile behavior
Difficulty interacting with adults
Seek girlfriends with children of their desired age and gender
May marry women who have children of their focused age
Church affiliations giving them access to children
Interest in guns, uniforms, handcuffs
Gifting and paying unusual attention to a child
Loitering around playgrounds
Excessive friendliness to parents
Takes videos of acts and victims
Photography, with an interest in kids
Psychopathic Triad: Maimed pets, fire-setting &
bed-wetting = high risk for aberrant behavior
Lack remorse and empathy, may fake emotions
Childhood sexual abuse is a risk factor for developing pedophilia
Choose activities that enable them power and proximity to kids
Examples: Camp counselors, bus drivers, babysitters, foster parents, coaches, photographers, childcare, special education teachers, ministers, school principals
Choose children likely to be poor witnesses against them
Crimes Against Children (CAC) Program http://www.fbi.gov/hq/cid/cac/crimesmain.htm
FBI National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime http://www.fbi.gov/hq/isd/cirg/ncavc.htm
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children 1-800-THE LOST http://www.missingkids.com
JacobWetterling Foundation 1-800-325-HOPE http://www.jwrc.org Eleven-year-old Jacob Wetterling was abducted in 1989. He has never been found. The Jacob Wetterling Resource Center has excellent online educational information. The organization is dedicated to making the world safer for children by building community awareness, supporting law enforcement and helping the criminal justice system.
Please see: Eyes of a Pedophile: Detecting Child Predators for more information on this topic. This true crime book is based on the behavior of violent pedophile Nathanael Bar-Jonah with information on how to keep kids safer.
Betty Kuffel, MD