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  • Writer's pictureDennis McCaslin

Fighting Pedophilia: Recognizing the threat and guidelines to protect our children

Today in Fort Smith has made a promise to stand against child trafficking, child pornography, child sexual abuse. We have promised our readers we will stand against pedophilia.

In an effort to keep that promise, it’s important to educate our audience on pedophilia. Pedophilia is a mental disorder characterized by recurring fantasies, urges, and sexual acts that involve children age 13 and younger.

Pedophiles, by definition, lose interest once puberty sets in. Some pedophiles, says the American Psychiatric Association, limit themselves to voyeurism and collecting child pornography, while others cross into fondling, molestation and rape. Various studies have shown that roughly half of all (known) pedophiles were sexually abused by adults themselves.

Psychologists theorize that in re-enacting their abuse, these pedophiles seek to gain a feeling of power and control that they lost as a result of being exploited in childhood.

The other 50% of reported pedophiles express a deep a sexual orientation toward children. Psychologists have yet to determine if they were born with this predisposition to desire children sexually or if they were damaged during their early psychological maturation.

Some experts suggest that there are hormonal or genetic irregularities. In fact, Robert Plante, a professor of psychology at Santa Clara University in California, has found that a number of pedophile priests have abnormal frontal temporal lobes. This may result in diminished judgment and reduced ability to control impulses. People often imagine a pedophile as a dirty, creepy old man. This is the furthest thing from the truth. In the U.S., the average pedophile is well educated, with no criminal record. A disproportionate number are religious, serve as leaders in their communities, and appear at least outwardly to genuinely love children.

However, they are also pathologically devious, going to extreme lengths to maintain access to children. Many seek out jobs as teachers, coaches, school-bus drivers, or camp counselors. Some will even marry single parents to prey on their offspring. There are two broad categories in which pedophiles can be classified:

Situational pedophiles will molest almost any vulnerable class of victim. Preferential pedophiles generally restrict themselves to children of a certain age range and “look”. Researchers say most pedophiles hide their fantasies, putting themselves in proximity with kids but never acting out on their desires.

In 1992 two researchers, Kurt Freund and R.J. Watson, estimated that pedophiles who prefer girls outnumber those who prefer boys by a ratio as high as 11 to 1. The Internet has opened the door for many passive pedophiles to become more active. On the Internet, they find a safe forum to indulge in their fantasies, find stimulating photos, and get reassurance from other pedophiles that their interest is healthy and normal.

The most gruesome encounters take place in chat rooms, where pedophiles solicit sex from unsuspecting boys and girls.

The startling truth about the Internet is that it opens the door to dangerous child sexual predators. Law enforcement does its best to meet the challenge posed by Internet technology that changes from day to day, but the primary responsibility for protecting children rests with their parents and guardians.

This is why Today in Fort Smith is committed to standing with you – our valued readers – and our beloved community – to fight crimes against children and to educate you on what is happening in your own backyard.

Today in Fort Smith recommends the following information (guidelines) for families to utilize in an effort to safeguard against children predators:

*I will not give out personal information such as my address, telephone number, parent's work address/telephone number, or the name of my school without my parent's permission.

*I will tell my parents right away if I come across any information that makes me feel uncomfortable.

*I will never agree to get together with someone I "meet" online without first checking with my parents.

*If my parents agree to the meeting, I will be sure that it is in a public place and bring my mother or father along.

*I will never send a person my picture or anything else without first checking with my parents.

*I will not respond to any messages that are mean or in any way make me feel uncomfortable. It is not my fault if I get a message like that. If I do, I will tell my parents right away so they can contact the online service.

*I will talk with my parents so that we can set up rules for going online.

*We will decide upon the time of day that I can be online, the length of time I can be online, and appropriate areas for me to visit.

*I will not access other areas or break these rules without their permission.

The battle doesn’t stop here. Check back tomorrow for more information on how to protect your children against child predators.

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