I’m wondering if you could help me out with a question about this pornography issue. From everything I have heard and read, pedophiles are generally born with a sexual predilection toward children, which is one reason the recidivism rate among pedophiles is near 100%. They can’t change their attraction just like gay people can’t or really anyone else. (Obviously I understand there are exceptions, but it was my understanding this was the rule). Where does
porn use fit into this, from a scientific standpoint? Anecdotally, I have not personally seen it born out that porn necessarily leads to criminally deviant behavior. Obviously it’s difficult to measure because people aren’t volunteering that they’re pedophiles. At the same time, just because most pedophiles have been looking at porn for a long time doesn’t demonstrate that that’s what made them pedophiles. Realistically all the men who aren’t pedophiles have been looking at porn for a long time as well, so that seems like an unreliable criterion.
So where does this leave the question? I respect your opinion a lot and would appreciate your thoughts.
This is definitely not my area of expertise but here are some things I have come across in my training:
1. There may be and probably are genetic/biological components to pedophilia but this does not take away from the high probability that environmental forces affect it as well (i.e. history of sexual abuse, emotional developmental delays, etc.).
2. Pedophilia is classified as a psychological disorder in the DSM IV. It is a difficult disorder to treat although there are programs and therapies that can be deemed useful.
3. I’m not comfortable comparing pedophilia to homosexual or heterosexual orientation – since it is an “orientation” all of its own – and one which speaks to serious social and developmental deficiency. It is considered a disorder, whereas adult-to- adult orientation is not (regardless of whether or not it is hetero or homosexual). And when acted upon, it is always deemed criminal behavior (whereas only some adult-to-adult sexual interaction would be ascertained criminal and has nothing to do with the orientation itself).
4. My understanding from the research I have read, is that pornography does not cause pedophilia – although it is difficult to completely separate whether or not it could be an “environmental” factor that could trigger biological or emotional tendencies.
5. Being aroused by and having a tendency to watch child pornography, however, would be considered pedophilic behavior – and is usually used as diagnostic criteria.
6. Pedophilia is defined by desire towards pre-pubescent children – not adolescents. Therefore, those who are looking at pornography of teens under the age of 18 (considered child pornography and illegal) are not usually pedophiles. Of course, it is still completely inappropriate for an adult to act out sexually towards an adolescent (even if only through pornography viewing), but this is not classified as pedophilia.
7. One can be a pedophile without having acted on these urges.
8. Pornography has been shown in some countries to actually lower criminal behavior, since the pedophile or sex abuser can get their “fix” by viewing the pornography instead of acting out the behavior him/herself. However, these conclusions are controversial and I’m not sure how often they’ve been duplicated.
9. Pedophilia has been around way before modern pornography (at least, the way we define the medium today – magazines, internet, etc.).
Whether or not pornography exacerbates or minimizes pedophilic behavior – I’m not sure we have conclusive answers just yet.
I welcome any further information others may have on the subject.