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Dr Wilson has overnight gained a new perspective on the justice system I suspect

Myths about Paedophiles

In the case of paedophiles as opposed to, for example, parents, it is assumed that any disparities and inequities in power between the adult and the child will be exercised by the adult malevolently. In reality, however, many paedophiles are patently well disposed towards their partners and take the role of loving teachers, house parents, or simply close friends. Clarence Osborne often epitomised the benevolence that exists in paedophile relationships because, in many respects, he displaced the interest shown by their parents. In short, it is a myth to assume that paedophiles necessarily use their greater experience and power in a destructive way.

An associated myth concerns the very common view that the child is traumatised and socially and sexually seriously damaged. We have dealt with this point in length in past chapters, but it is worth reiterating that the evidence simply does not support these assumptions. In the short run the studies suggest that problems with the partners of paedophiles often flow from the reactions of parents and officials, who respond to news of their son’s relationships with such horror that it elevates the significance of the event in the child’s life. Even in the study showing the worst possible result—Gagnon’ s sample of 333 victims — only 5 per cent of the ‘victims’ had what Gagnon called ‘damaged adult lives’. Even here though ‘damaged adult lives ‘is a vague term and diverse causes of the damage besides the paedophile relationship could be possible.

Similar myths surrounding the interactions between the youth and the adult are also without foundation. For example, coital relationships do not generally occur between the two and the usual sexual acts simply involve showing, fondling and being fondled. Most paedophiles are not into ‘fucking little kids’, and, as we have seen time and time again sexual relationships are rarely forced. Indeed, a substantial number of relationships are initiated by the child, continued by the child, and often, ended by the child or adolescent. While there are undoubtedly cruelly exploitative paedophile relation-ships, the vast majority are not of this type. And the literature does have a few case studies which demonstrate youths benefiting psycho-logically from their contacts’ with the adult.

In explaining the antagonism towards paedophiles let us return again to the analogous example of incest. One of the reasons why so many people could be unwilling to come to terms with incest is that they themselves are frightened of any incestuous thoughts. As long as we continue to believe that incestuous assault can happen only in other families, we can avoid examining our own lives. These defences protect us from the sexual feeling we may have experienced as children for older family members and any possible interplay that may have occurred in our own childhood, as well as feelings we may have towards our own children as we watch them developing into men and women. And so it is with paedophilia. While most of us do not act upon these feelings, it is our refusal to acknowledge to ourselves that we might be sexually attracted to young boys and girls — to acknowledge in effect that we ever have such feelings — that creates our silence, aversion and unwillingness to openly discuss the issues associated with sexual relationships between adults and children.

If we are honest we know that there are many conditions under which adults and children become sexually aroused. For example, there is the favourite uncle who rocks his little niece on his knee, then is alarmed to find he has an erection. There is the brother who becomes psychologically and physically aroused at the unexpected sight of his sister naked; the father who suddenly sees that his small daughter is flowering into the bloom of adolescence. These are situations which many of us would like to forget and one of the ways of forgetting them is by condemning persons who reflect our own ‘deviant’ thoughts and past deeds.