Early intervention for teen sexual behavior problems: the key to preventing pedophilia

By Matt Bulkley | Blog Education Series

STAR Guides Wilderness - Early intervention for teen sexual behavior problems - the key to preventing pedophilia

We hold a strong belief that disrupting problematic sexual behaviors early is the key to helping teens who are struggling with sexual behavior avoid a future life as a sexual offender or a pedophile. This is our mission and purpose at Star Guides.

Pedophilia or paedophilia is a psychiatric disorder in persons 16 years of age or older typically characterized by a primary or exclusive sexual interest toward prepubescent children (generally age 11 years or younger, though specific diagnostic criteria for the disorder extends the cut-off point for prepubescent to age 13). An adolescent who is 16 years of age or older five years older than the prepubescent child before the attraction diagnosed as pedophilia.

Pedophiles will disguise and span social class and ethnicity. Several researchers have reported correlations between pedophilia and certain psychological characteristics, such as low self-esteem and poor social skills. Cohen et al. (2002), studying child sex offenders, states that pedophiles have impaired interpersonal functioning and raised passive-aggressiveness, as well as impaired self-concept. Regarding disinhibitory traits, pedophiles prove more psychopathy and propensity for cognitive distortions.

A sex offender (sexual offender, sex abuser or sexual abuser) is a person who has committed a sex crime What forms a sex crime differs by culture and legal jurisdiction. A majority of convicted sex offenders have convictions for crimes of a sexual nature; however, some sex offenders have simply violated a law contained in a sexual category such as sending or receiving obscene content in the form of SMS text messages (sexting), relationship between young adults and teenagers; and sexual contact by the adult to the minor. Other serious offenses are sexual assault, statutory rape, bestiality, child sexual abuse, incest, rape, and sexual imposition.

According one study, early exposure (under fourteen years of age) to pornography related to greater involvement in deviant sexual practice, particularly rape. Slightly more than one-third of the child molesters and rapists in this study claimed to have at least occasionally been incited to commit an offense by exposure to pornography. Among the child molesters incited, the study reported that 53 percent of them deliberately used the stimuli of pornography as they readied to offend.

A study of convicted child molesters, 77 percent of those who molested boys and 87 percent of those who molested girls admitted to the habitual use of pornography prior to their crimes. Besides stimulating the perpetrator, pornography facilitates child molestation in several ways. For example, pedophiles use pornographic photos to show to their victims what they want them to do. They also use them to arouse a child or to lower a child’s inhibitions and communicate to the unsuspecting child that a particular sexual activity is okay:” This person is enjoying it; so will you.”

Approximately 15% to 25% of women and 5% to 15% of men sexually abused as children. Most sexual abuse offenders were already acquainted with their victims; about 30% are relatives of the child, most often fathers, uncles or cousins; around 60% are other acquaintances such as friends of the family, babysitters, or neighbors; strangers are the offenders in about 10% of child sexual abuse cases. Most child sexual abuse is committed by men; while women commit about 14% of offenses reported against boys and 6% of offenses reported against girls. Most offenders who abuse pre-pubescent children are pedophiles; however, small percentages do not meet the diagnostic criteria for pedophilia.

About the Author

Matt is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been working in the field of youth treatment and psychotherapy since 1995. He did his undergraduate work at BYU and earned his M.S.W. at the University of Utah. He has worked in a variety of treatment setting in his career ranging from wilderness therapy and residential treatment to outpatient treatment and state government.

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