Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Pedophiles Need to Avoid More Than Sex

I realize many people are uncomfortable with the idea of pedophiles having friendships with children at all. They think of those cases where it can lead on to sexual abuse, either as a result of a carefully laid "grooming" plan or as an impulsive decision that transforms an affectionate situation into a sexual one. These must be avoided, and I would encourage any pedophile to look carefully at his general self-control, his motivations, and the strength of his desire in any situation like that. If in any doubt, he should do whatever it takes to make sure he never abuses. If that means never becoming at all friendly with children, that's what he should do.

But there are pedophiles who are in no danger of doing anything sexual with children. They can in fact be helpful to the extent they feel a genuine affection for a child and show it in appropriate ways. Although not strictly required, it is a wonderful thing if a child has a few people who really take delight in them just for being who they are. All too often kids have a shortage of that from among the adults who are a natural part of a kid's life -- parents, other family, and friends of the parents. There are some "ordinary" adults who have no sexual attraction to kids who can see this need and genuinely help meet it. But it is also a situation where a pedophile's attention can be welcome and helpful. Many of us in the Virtuous Pedophiles discussion group report an attraction to kids that is completely genuine and healthy that occurs alongside the sexual attraction.

I think we recognize this pattern among adults. Men who are attracted to women can sometimes be their friends without revealing the attraction. That genuine sense that the "other" is a wonderful person can lead them to be supportive beyond what ordinary friends would do. Some may hope that the friendship will develop into more, but many hold no such hope. Of course women also do this for men very commonly. I imagine it is common from a lesbian directed towards a (likely straight) woman, or a gay man towards a (likely straight) man. There are ethical problems when the recipient of such friendly attention knows or suspects the other person hopes that more will develop when they know it will not. But this doesn't undercut the value of what the attracted person can offer.

Yet there are also problematic things the attracted person can do -- ways the attraction can lead them to be less than helpful. As I turn below to pedophiles being friendly with children, you will easily see the same potential problem between adults. The key difference is that adults can recognize what's going on and stick up for themselves, and more readily recognize unusual behavior as the other person's problem.

If a pedophile does fall in love with the girl (it can happen with boys too, but I focus on the girl case) he sometimes puts on her the sort of non-sexual expectations a lover might have. For instance, he could profess the great depth of his friendship. He could try to get her to spend more time with him than she wants, and/or act very hurt if she doesn't spend the time he wants. Or he might suddenly break off contact to deal with his own hurt and frustration. These can leave a girl wondering what she did wrong or even what's wrong with her. Now, sorting out relationships with peers is a major job of adolescence, and it includes dealing with unrequited crushes and passions. Yet it is far better if adults don't put an adolescent in such a position. (The perils of crushes that are requited is a topic for another post). Telling a child you are in love with them or that you are a pedophile is highly problematic. Even if you don't say you need them to keep it a secret, they are likely to feel that way -- often for very good reason.

The younger the child, the higher standards we should have for not putting burdens on them. If we offer friendship, it should be without hidden expectations or too much intensity. Asking a young child to keep ANY troubling secret from their parents is a bad idea.

It is also true that most parents don't always deal with their kids in the healthiest ways psychologically. Yet parents have taken on a very big burden -- a stress lasting 18 years minimum. They have no respite or relief. We have to accept that most of them will be short of sainthood and not be ideal parents.
Siblings are similarly stuck with each other. Yet if an adult voluntarily comes into a child's life, we can naturally hold them to a much higher standard, and that is the standard pedophiles should set for themselves. And they must avoid the perils that their attraction can bring to the situation, even those that are short of sexual activity.


  1. Whilst I agree that paedophiles should be careful that they don't emotionally 'overload' their relationships with their young friends I think that to put an emphasis on this is to ignore the real danger (a danger which is easily overlooked, since it is what the West considers as 'normal' and therefore 'right'): the absence in the lives of children of equal friendships with adults.

    As it is, just about all relationships can have with adults are ones in which the adult is an authority figure - the opportunities for a child to have a friendship with an adult where they are equal partners are very limited, and even when it happens it tends to happen under the supervision of some other adult authority figure.

    The relationships children have with parents are ones that, for structural and economic reasons, perpetuate dependence - likewise with other authority adults, most notably teachers. Friendships with equal adults allow the child to experiment and experience real world adult situations, relationships and behaviour - they allow children to flourish. A good adult friend will give the child access to a huge range of skills, experiences and knowledge that would be otherwise denied them. In such a relationship the child can interact with the world as an autonomous being, and with more courage and enthusiasm for having a trusted non-authority adult with them.

    I wonder if paedophilia originally had a role in the communities of our ancestors - that of fostering vertical cohesion. As it is, in the west, to take an analogy from mineralogy, our societies are very much like mica, talc or graphite - lamellar - strong cohesion laterally - withing narrow age groups - but very little cohesion across age groups.

    Simple societies generally have less apartheid between chldren and adults, children generally become less their parents' offspring and more members of the community at a much younger age - paedophiles (if such a term would indeed apply in societies so different from ours) would be the adults most involved in children's lives - maybe the most talented educators and entertainers, story-tellers - such a society, to resume the mineralogical analogy, would have 3-dimensional strength, a structure more like diamond than graphite.

    Despite (or maybe because of) all the paedo-hysteria and the inter-generational apartheid, there's a nostalgia for these kind of relationships and this can be seen in a proliferation of films like 'Up', 'Lamb', 'about a boy','Paper Moon' (a bit more complicated since it portrays a father and daughter - but they are also 'partners'), 'Alice in the Cities', 'Cybèle ou les Dimanches de Ville D'Avray', 'Lawn Dogs', 'Leon', 'Cinema Paradiso', 'Wreck-it Ralph'...

    Don't you think what we (and society!) need to do more to praise and foster platonic friendships between children and non-authority adults (be the adult a paedophile or not)? To even point out the dangers of such relationships seems perverse and disproportionate when compared to the damage done by the absence of such relationships.

  2. I do think our society would be better if there could be more adult-child friendships without undue fear of accusations of child sex abuse. But I think these adults are most naturally not pedophiles. In I argued that fears of accusations or suspicions keep adults away. I don't fear scaring pedophiles away by telling them not to cause emotional damage.

    Child liberation folks often paint parents as one-dimensional figures, too. Good parents can assume different roles at different times and provide the benefits of a relationship between equals -- because (for younger kids especially) a friendship with another adult should never be between equals. Both parents and other adult friends can suspend the need for adult responsibility and relate mostly as peers, but in both cases the ultimate adult responsibility is in the background. I am drawing on my own experience as a parent here.

  3. I would keep a secret from a child's parents in the case of reporting child abuse. I would question the child, and say "don't tell anyone we had this conversation". I would then tell ChildLine. Such is the type of fantasy I have most often about children.

    I try to avoid children as of present, but if I child ever were to do something wrong around me, I would gladly keep it a secret from their parents. It's not a matter of my welfare, but hers.

    But I do think befriending children is not always the best approach. It worked for me, until that child stopped visiting the pool where we met. The problem with getting too close to a child is getting into situations where one may be alone with them. One often cannot get out of those situations without being rude. Furthermore, someone in that positition cannot call a hotline or ask help from the child's parents. I suspect many pro-contact pedophiles actually act out in those situations, because their resolve is weaker (i.e. wrong because society is wrong vs. wrong because of the danger of harm).

    I think one really has to know themselves to befriend a child. After this one girl at the pool left, I tried befriending another girl but she avoided me, and seemed creeped out. I had to pull the plug on befriending minors because it risked me getting harassment charges...If that girl that I like is at the pool this year, I will gladly be her friend. But that is because she is the only little girl who has really understood me. I will never befriend another child.