Picture credit: Chelsea Hernandez
It is interesting how we portray child predators to be peculiar human beings. One thing we cannot deny is that they’re human, just like the rest of us. What sets them aside is their attraction to children. We have accepted in American society that this kind of sexual attraction is abnormal and for many, it is evil. However, is the sexual attraction to children a social construct? Why do many of us want these so-called predators locked away, but few others understand them and empathize with them?
Before in society, although still condemned by some, homosexuals would be portrayed the same way as child predators are today. They were known to be vile and for many religious groups, they were “sinners.” However, it could be noted that homosexuality has become more acceptable in society. In 2015, same-sex marriage even became legal in the United States. So again, what is so wrong about being attracted to a child?
Japan is getting backlash for creating an actual child sex-doll. The company claims that it prevents pedophiles from actually offending.
“We should accept that there is no way to change someone’s fetishes. I am helping people express their desires, legally and ethically. It’s not worth living if you have to live with repressed desire,” says creator Shin Takagi.
The company was under fire because many people believed this was ethically wrong. Although the desires of an adult are being met, it is still wrong to think of an innocent child in any sexual way. However, many others believe this is a smart and helpful way for pedophiles to fulfill their fantasies without actually seeking out a child. It’s a good thing for both the adult and any potential victims.
According to the Archives of Sexual Behavior, there is available help for convicted pedophiles but there is no help for help-seeking pedophiles who have not yet committed a crime. Perhaps this is the reason why the United States has a high number of incarcerated sex offenders. 20% of child molesters still go back to prison after being released. There wouldn’t be a problem if the problem was stopped before it happened. Therefore many believe that these sex dolls are a good way for sex offenders to get their fix instead of actually exploiting a child.
When a child predator molests a child, they face consequences if found guilty. They aren’t given a warning, nobody says, “cut them a break, it’s just a sexual preference.” Instead, they are thrown in jail and given the title “sex offender” for the rest of their life. The Archives of Sexual Behavior also says in the 70s and 80s, Dutch and European pedophile groups were tolerated. The act itself was not ideal, however, society did not condemn the molesters.
Infographic credit: Chelsea Hernandez
“Love between two adults is typically consensual,” says Sociology and sexuality expert, Amie Levesque from the University of Denver. The Archives of Sexual Behavior would agree with professor Levesque that pedophilia will probably never be accepted in American society because it is usually linked to exploitation. This means that the sexual act is forced upon the child and it is not consensual. Professor Levesque also notes, “Children don’t necessarily have the ability to consent, especially, the younger they are.”
Where is the line drawn? In 2016, a controversial story broke out about a high school teacher who had sex with a student and got pregnant. Nonetheless, the student did step forward and say that he wanted the relationship to happen. He was 16 at the time. He was less than 2 years away from legally making his own decisions. But because he was not yet 18, the court of law declared the teacher as a sex offender.
In American society, to be able to consent is not defined by your maturity. It is defined by your age.
“It does get tricky when a minor claims that they wanted it,” says Professor Levesque, “but I do believe that when sex is forced on a child, the predator should be punished.”
Professor Levesque agrees with the majority of the United States that pedophiles should face time in jail. Many extremists believe that a more severe punishment should follow. One example of this is Castration. This is the surgical processes of removing the sexual organs of a person. Chemical castration is reducing the sex drive by taking a set of drugs.
For years, it has been an ongoing battle in deciding if castration is morally ethical or not. An article that can be found in the CQ Researcher database, takes in consideration the pros and cons of chemically castrating sex offenders.
“This is nonsense,” says Andrew Vachss, “the motivation for sexual assault will not disappear with the severed genitalia or altered hormones.” He is a juvenile justice advocate and novelist.
In May of 2016, Indonesia passed a law that allows castration for convicted child sex offenders.
“These crimes have undermined the development of children, and these crimes have disturbed our sense of peace, security and public order,” said Indonesian President Joko Widodo, “so, we will handle it in an extraordinary way.”
The CQ Article about castration also says that although people see castration as a violation of reproductive freedom, there are those that look at it as an equivalent to anti-depressants and tranquilizers, much like those that are used to treat mental illness.
Two college-leveled students were asked, “Imagine you were an adult who found yourself sexually fantasizing about children. You don’t want these thoughts in your head but somehow they keep coming back, do you believe you’d be scared to seek help?”
“I would definitely feel scared. Not only because people would judge me, but because I know I won’t get the help I want and thus, I might do something stupid.” said Psychology major Hannah Parry. “I never gave this some thought. It’s interesting.”
“If I was having thoughts about being sexually active with a child I would probably go ahead and commit suicide,” said Marketing major Morgan Bolomo, “I would feel like something is very wrong with me.”
Pedophilia in America is not treated like other crime that can be derived from mental illness. For example, we provide drug users and dealers with help that can lead to sobriety. Also, when a murderer is diagnosed with a mental illness, they do not face prison time, they go to mental facilities. However, the same can not be said about child predators.
All child predators are deemed as bad people, we hardly ever give them justifications for their actions. Some predators do take advantage of the innocence and weakness of a child. But there are others who are locked behind bars because they watched child pornography, or because they were given “consent” from a minor.
“If not all murderers are the same, why should all sexual predators be the same too?”