We use "pedophilia" to mean a strong and persistent sexual attraction to prepubescent children or those in the early stages of puberty. (Some scientists separate out attraction to children who have begun puberty under the separate term "hebephilia".)
Note what we did not say. We do not use pedophile to refer to people who have sexual contact with children; we use the term to refer to people who have a strong sexual attraction to children.
Many people with a predominant sexual attraction to children never engage in sexual activity with children.
The founders of this group have never touched a child in a sexual manner and virtually all the members of our support forum say the same (except a handful of reformed ex-offenders). There are many people with pedophilia who are like us in their commitment to living good, responsible, law-abiding lives. This website is for those people.
The short answer is that no one knows. In general, science has yet to explain why people have the sexual preferences they have. And the science of why some people are sexually attracted to children has been especially slow to make progress. We do not think it matters much for our purposes, beyond the fact that no one chooses to have pedophilia, and no one knows how to make pedophilic preferences go away.
Terms such as mental illness and mental disorder are not precisely defined, and we doubt that they can be defined based on science alone. Values–our opinion of the desirability of a condition–invariably intrude on the decision whether that condition is a mental illness or merely reflects a difference with other people.
We support the DSM-5 in its conclusion that pedophilia is not a disorder unless it also causes marked distress to an individual or leads to sexual abuse of children.
Pedophilia is undesirable to the extent that it predisposes some people to sexually abuse children. It is undesirable to have a condition requiring lifelong celibacy, and we would certainly wish that any newborn baby not turn out to be a pedophile.
But as long as pedophiles are celibate, they should not have to think of themselves as having a disorder. They did not choose pedophilia and they cannot make it go away. We encourage celibate pedophiles to let go of feelings of shame and distress. If they can, they no longer have a disorder according to DSM-5.
We want society to recognize that we are not monsters lurking behind bushes waiting to pounce on unsuspecting children, that many of us are good people who have a sexual attraction that we did not choose and cannot change, but are capable of controlling. Not only are pedophiles capable of being good people, many of us are good people.
It could be your son or daughter.
According to the best available evidence, most pedophiles first become aware of their condition in their early teens. We start like everyone else. We first become attracted to kids who are our own age. As we grow older, however, the objects of our attraction do not. Gradually we become aware of our condition. Believing the popular wisdom that we are evil and will inevitably abuse children, many of us experience depression, self-loathing and sometimes become suicidal.
If you had a teenage son or daughter who was unfortunate enough to have pedophilia, is that the kind of life that you would want for them? Wouldn’t you rather that they understand that they can’t be evil simply because they have a sex drive that they didn’t choose and can’t change; that they don't have to act on that sex drive; and that there are resources available to help them manage it and lead a happy, productive, law-abiding life? Wouldn't you want people to judge them based on the life they choose to live and not based on their having certain feelings that they successfully resist? Wouldn't you want them to accept and love themselves? If your answers to these questions are "yes," then our organization is also for you, even if you do not know (or do not think you know) anyone with pedophilia.
Public forums have existed for many years in which pedophiles converse and the predominant view is that adult-child sex is fundamentally OK. Those forums are not going away. Our forum is different.
According to the best available evidence, a pedophile is most likely to abuse a child when he or she feels desperate, isolated from the community, and feels there is nothing to lose. A forum provides a community to reduce isolation and desperation. The Virtuous Pedophiles forum provides a place where pedophiles can discuss living with their attraction, but with the shared understanding that sexual activity with children is wrong and that we are not trying to make it more acceptable. Many leading experts share our belief that participation should reduce the risk of child sex abuse.
Discussion of anything with erotic content is not allowed, nor is linking to any such material. We will not permit discussion, whatever the topic, that seems to be influencing any individual in the direction of offending.
Very common advice for pedophiles is, "Get help." The implication is that professionals can cure the pedophilia if only the pedophile asks for help.
Most experts believe that there is no way of making an attraction to children go away, just as there is no way to turn gay people straight. So an actual cure is impossible.
But there are treatments available to help a pedophile manage the condition and remain law-abiding.
"Talk therapies" can be very effective in making sure the pedophile never offends and helping him or her to lead a rewarding life. A great many pedophiles would benefit from this sort of therapy.
Drug therapies are available to help pedophiles “take the edge off." One kind of highly effective drug therapy is known by the unfortunate term chemical castration. These drugs (such as leuprolide acetate) block the effects of testosterone and drastically reduce sex drive. Some very different drugs (the SSRI anti-depressants, in particular) also work well for some men struggling with their desires. The vast majority of those in our online forum have never needed these drugs to curb our desires, but some men do. Some have very good results, reporting that the drugs reduce sexual desire, enabling them to live substantially better lives. Others report that the drugs are either ineffective or have negative side effects.
There are two main reasons.
Most jurisdictions have laws that require therapists to report people who are attracted to children if the therapist believes that a child is in danger. The laws are vague, and we pedophiles fear that therapists will consider us to be dangerous and report us. Even if we are cleared, the consequences of the police investigation can be devastating -- being outed can result in loss of family, friends and career.
Second, the stigma attached to pedophilia is very strong, and therapists are not immune to it—'pedophile' is just about the dirtiest word in the English language. We fear that therapists will view us as criminals, even if we haven’t done anything; that they will not believe that we are responsible adults who are capable of resisting our sex drives; and that they will deal with us as just potential sex offenders rather than as clients with painful life problems.
If a pedophile wants help, society should make sure they can get it -- before they harm a child. In Germany the Dunkelfeld project is open to those who have not broken the law, and in the United Kingdom there is a program known as StopSO. Globally, the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA) has become more welcoming of non-offending pedophiles. Our hope is that programs of this kind will become more prevalent.
Mandatory reporter laws need to be reexamined. On the one hand, they are vital in helping to protect children from abuse. But there is one component that is definitely counterproductive: the requirement that psychotherapists make a report if they think their client may commit abuse in the future. This is vague enough that the take-home message for pedophiles is that you can't safely admit your attractions with a therapist. Dr. Fred Berlin has noted that non-offending pedophiles used to seek help at his practice, but they stopped coming in when mandatory reporting laws came into effect.
The founders of this present site were in the peer support group of B4UACT (b4uact.org), and we share many of their perspectives and beliefs. However, B4UACT officially makes a point of not saying that adult-child sexual activity is wrong aside from the need to obey laws. At the time (2011), its discussion forum favored the view that adult-child sexual activity was fundamentally OK if only societal attitudes would change. We felt the need for a separate group grounded in the fundamental belief that sexual activity between adults and children is wrong. Our first web site went up in late June of 2012. We replaced it with a new site in July of 2017.
We found it hard to pick a name for this group that did everything we wanted.
No. We believe that sexual activity between adults and children is wrong. Some pedophiles argue it should be accepted, but we disagree and think their arguments should be greeted skeptically due to the self-interest involved.
The founders of our organization have never touched a child in any manner that could be considered remotely sexual. We think it is important for society to know that there are a great many pedophiles who pose no danger in that regard.
Individuals who have been sexual with children obviously did pose a danger in the past. We are distressed at the harm that such past sexual activity caused to the children. We also know that the stigma that we law-abiding pedophiles suffer has its roots in the actions of those who have abused children.
Nonetheless, we believe that people can change for the better. As a practical matter, we also want to help pedophiles avoid sexual contact with children in the future. So past offenders are welcome in our online support group. However, to be included, you must be truly committed to a child-celibate life. In addition, to repeat, there will be no consideration in our organization of a world that would allow adult-child sex.
No. There are no suitable consenting partners for us pedophiles, so we can never ethically express our sexuality with the people we are attracted to. Gay men and lesbians can find adult partners and form consensual relationships. That difference is all-important. In the view of the founders of this site, gay men and lesbians should have the right to marry and equal protection in all respects.
We believe child pornography is wrong when a real child is involved because the child can be seriously harmed. When no child is involved in production, it is less clear. This includes erotic fiction involving minors, computer generated images (so-called 'virtual' pornography) or child sex dolls.
What is clear is that it is currently illegal to possess much of this material, though the details vary depending on where you live. In some cases the interpretation of the law isn't settled.
We strongly urge pedophiles to never seek out or view illegal material. We are aware that it is a temptation many pedophiles face.
Many mental health professionals are able to help pedophiles develop strategies to avoid viewing child pornography. See our Getting/Giving help page for help in finding these professionals.