VirPed Panel: 07 July 2024

  • Home /
  • VirPed Panel: 07 July 2024


The below are answers given by selected members of the VirPed forum who are all pedophiles. They are speaking for themselves and not for the organization.

“Stigma Researcher” asks:

Do you believe that the proportion of non-offending paedophiles would be greater if we had a greater social acceptance of paedophilia as involuntary and distinct from child sexual abuse? Would that acceptance make it easier for you to manage your own paedophilia? To what extent do you think that stigma reinforces sexual abuse?

Well, the proportion is the proportion regardless of social acceptance (check out this article, for example). But I think what you’re asking is if more people would come forward and make themselves known. Or perhaps you mean would more pedophiles be better able to come to terms other their pedophilia and not offend as a result.

I think the answer is yes in both cases, regardless. I tend to believe there are a lot more people with some flavor of minor attraction than people are comfortable believing, and I think that strong social supports can empower pedophiles to accept themselves and refrain from offending.

Acceptance would allow me to be completely open and vulnerable with all the people who are important in my life. It would lead to richer relationships and I wouldn’t have to feel like I’m holding anything back.

I think stigma does reinforce child abuse. There’s a very common point that all pedophiles offend eventually, and so I believed that that must be me one day. This belief isn’t helping anyone and totally pushes some pedophiles to offend when they might not otherwise.

I think it’s a complex issue. On one hand, you have pedophiles that experience the stigma to such a degree that they never talk about it to anyone or seek out professional help if they otherwise feel as though they may need it. To me, this clearly increases the rates of sexual abuse of children. On the other hand, were pedophilia in general to have no stigma, I would imagine you would have many more pro contact pedophiles pushing abhorrent things such as the abolition of the age of consent. Not everyone that has an attraction to children is anti-contact, in fact I would assume that most aren’t, but don’t know for sure. Those that are already tempted by pro contact philosophy would be far more likely to offend, it seems to me, if there was a complete lack of stigma present. I personally think the rates of pro contact pedophiles would rise higher than anti contact ones without stigma.

Ideally, there should be stigma in regards to offending (but not so much that ex offenders are labeled irredeemable, or they’ll have no motivation to want to stop) but not to a person that has the attractions. Unfortunately, I don’t believe I have seen such a widespread level of nuance in society when it comes to such social issues.

Today, the level of stigma is far too high, and does need to be lowered from where it is right now. People absolutely need to feel a lot more comfortable in seeking help, either professionally or social, with the most difficult parts of this attraction, and lowered stigma would reduce considerably some of this difficulty.

Stigmatizing pedophilic attractions creates a perverse incentive for child sexual abuse. If a non-offending pedophile knows that society will not treat them much differently than an abuser, they might feel like they have nothing to lose by crossing that line. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, which unfortunately feeds into the anti-pedophile narrative that we’re all monsters destined to offend. I think the turning point for us will be when society finally acknowledges that ostracizing us could come at the price of more children being harmed.

There’s a number of ways to conclude that the answer to this question is a resounding yes.

For one, social acceptance will increase the number of visible self-identifying paedophiles, and all the new faces will want to keep in the good graces of the public. Some folks in denial would finally understand who they are. I think many pro-contact MAPs would trade their narrow ideologies for broad acceptance, and others would learn why sexual contact with children is wrong through the wider discussion.

Another contributing factor will be that people will accommodate our needs, and we’ll start seeing more accessible information on ethical and legal sexual outlets. This will redirect any urges away from harmful outlets for a lot of people.

Also, social acceptance will improve mental health outcomes. Ostracising just makes people more vulnerable and likely to act out in defiance of a world that shows them so little sympathy. Outcasts are also more likely to latch on to bad ideas, like the idea that children can consent. For as incorrect as the idea is, it’s a comforting one in a world that shows us so little comfort.

I think those are the big obvious reasons why social acceptance would have an immediate positive impact. As for me, the thing that’s hard to manage about my attraction is not screaming it to the world. I want people to know my story. I want to be able to joke about it with my friends. A guarantee of acceptance would complete me, as complete as I can be.

The question sounds somewhat straight forward, but has some hidden complexity. Can stigma be a factor in reducing child abuse? I’d give that one an emphatic no. By demonizing those that have an attraction they never asked for, it can only increase it, as self loathing breeds. I don’t want to increase the complexity by talking about laws and how they’re structured. But I don’t think stigmatizing an attraction helps anyone including children. It will sure never reduce the prevalence of the attraction

The trouble is we cannot measure what the proportion of non-offending pedophiles is. The reason we can’t measure is… stigma!

So it’s impossible to say if destigmatisation would affect this. Because there’s no baseline figure, you can’t compare it to the figure you get after destigmatisation.

I believe that acknowledging facts helps us frame better solutions to social problems. I believe that making it more possible for people to disclose pedophile attraction could help those facts emerge.

Based on what I have seen and read in the anonymous pedophile communities, when we can measure this, I would expect to see a complex picture emerge: a group of people with a high risk to abuse children who aren’t attracted to them; a group of people whose attraction to children is a risk factor for abuse or other illegal behaviour; a group of people whose attraction could never overpower their moral decisions, and other groupings and various overlaps.

I personally think I’m in that third category. The current stigma depresses me and makes me anxious and sometimes suicidal, but I still don’t think that makes me more likely to abuse. If there were destigmatisation, I think I would make use of the opportunity to be out to more people and live a less fearful life. I don’t think it would embolden me to go after kids sexually. In fact, I suspect that my increased openness would result in decreased opportunities for me to have social contact with kids (and more opportunities instead to engage with fictional expressions of my sexuality).

But I don’t think my likelihood of seeking sexual contact withba child would change, whatever happens.

Hate me or accept me, I’m a committed non-offender.

Here are some of the good things that would happen with greater acceptance of pedophilia. First of all, pedophiles would be more likely to seek therapy. They would be more likely to talk to their friends and family about what they’re going through to get support. They would be less likely to be lonely and socially isolated. They could meet other people like themselves. They could find life partners who are supportive of their journeys. All of these benefits would help people find support among the “good guys.” It would leave pedophiles with more stable support. It would mean fewer make their first pedophile friends among those who look at child pornography or think that child sexual abuse is OK. All of that would lead to fewer pedophiles abusing children.

Of course, there might be downsides to this world too. I think one of the biggest fears is the slippery slope argument: that if society accepts the desire it will also eventually lead to accepting the actions. I don’t really believe that, but I certainly understand the fear.

Another argument I’ve heard is that it might also make it harder to police things, because it’s harder to know where to draw the boundary between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. However, I honestly don’t see why that would be.

Finally, there is a concern: if it’s easier to find pedophiles, maybe we would reinforce each other’s bad habits, or maybe the “bad guys” would go looking for people who could be convinced to share their views. I don’t particularly buy this version of events, but I can see why someone might think it.

All of which is to say that yes, my guess would be that fewer pedophiles would abuse children. I see some counter views, but I think the much more likely result is that we end up with less kids getting hurt.

As far as myself? I don’t struggle to manage my pedophilia, and have never thought about offending. However, it would certainly make my life better, and make me less stressed, if it was easier to find acceptance and I didn’t live in fear of being discovered. Those would be good changes for me!

We don’t have any data on the current proportion of non-offending pedophiles, precisely because research on the topic is difficult to fund and carry out due to the stigma, but based on anecdotes from VirPed and elsewhere, a grater social acceptance of pedophilia would indeed reduce child sexual abuse. I don’t think it’s necessarily a massive factor, as many of us are non-offending because of our own moral compass, and society’s views doesn’t affect our behaviour around children. But for a lot of pedophiles, particularly those who aren’t part of VirPed and similar communities, the crushing loneliness combined with the stigma is not a fun experience. Imagine a lonely, desperate pedophile who has concluded that society hates them no matter what, so what have they got to lose? It’s easy to see that they may end up eventually offending. This isn’t to say that we’re ticking time bombs (we’re absolutely not, the vast majority of us are well capable of controlling ourselves) but for the pedophiles who do have self-control issues, the stigma probably does make them more likely to offend.

Erasing the stigma and promoting social acceptance is more about our own mental health and well-being, at least as far as I can see. Reducing child sexual abuse will certainly be a positive by-product for the few pedophiles who genuinely are at risk, allowing them to talk about it to family and friends without getting rejected, or talking to a therapist without getting reported, and having that support circle. For most of us, since our actual risk to children is slim to none, greater social acceptance will lead to an improvement to our own mental health and well-being, and in that sense it will make our pedophilia more manageable.

For the last question, stigma reinforces abuse not just in the sense that it promotes the ticking time bomb myth, and not just because it drives many pedophiles into isolation, but it also makes it more difficult for victims to speak up and get the help that they need. It also makes it difficult for effective research to be done on these topics, as few researchers want to be associated with such a stigmatized topic.

My short answer is that a greater social acceptance of paedophilia as involuntary and distinct from child sexual abuse would lead to reduced child sexual abuse.

The reason people might think it would go up is the pedophile thought, “if it’s a natural tendency, why not go ahead and do it?” I think the Diamond studies from Japan, Czechia and Denmark argue strongly against this. When child porn suddenly became freely available, and people could see other adults doing what they felt a strong desire to do, sexual offenses against children went down or stayed the same. This “it’s natural, go ahead” argument would predict they would have gone up a lot instead. The simple explanation for what happened is that people know CSA is wrong but offenders offend when they feel they can’t help themselves. With child porn as an outlet, they could help themselves more. (I am not condoning making child porn as a way to reduce CSA, but think studying what actually happened is instructive.) A reduction in stigma should make pedophiles more able to seek help professionally, join support groups, or confide their desires to friends, and in general feel less totally rejected by society and more likely to follow its rules.

I assume the question-poser is assuming that the number of pedophiles would remain constant if there was less stigma. The typical “NOMAP” assumption is that pedophilia is set early and cannot be changed. There is still an extra step to get from an inner reality to something the person and others recognize. The number of diagnosed pedophiles (whether self-diagnosed or professionaly diagnosed) would increase if stigma was reduced. If we assume the stigma against child sex abuse remains unchanged at its very high level, then these newly diagnosed pedophiles should overwhelmingly be non-offenders, so this too should make the proportion of pedophiles who offend get lower.

I’m not sure what to predict about image-only offenses. If pedophiles internally feel less stigma about their desires, they might be more inclined to take the “What’s done is done” attitude towards illegal material. I also think that less stigma against pedophilia within society at large would lessen the pressure for harsh penalties against passive child porn viewers.

Stigma against child sexual abuse, against no-hands-on-offending pedophilia, and against passive-child-porn-viewing offending could vary independently.

A common argument used to justify the stigma surrounding pedophilia is that the normalization of pedophilia will normalize acting on the attraction. Many individuals use the argument that the normalization of homosexuality which in turn led to the legalization of gay marriage is evidence that normalizing the attraction pedophiles experience is a slippery slope. This theory holds no weight as these are two very different situations. One would cause incredible harm whilst the other is inherently harmless. Acting on pedophilia will never be normal, it would cause harm to children which differentiates between these examples falsifying the proposal that normalizing a sexual attraction will consequently normalize the behaviour that follows.

Most believe pedophiles are bound to offend, they say we have insatiable urges or purposely seek out children to abuse. Misconceptions, anger and fear force us into isolation that make it difficult for us to seek support, talk to loved ones, develop meaningful relationships, be at peace with ourselves, and find meaning in life. The vast majority of us pedophiles are intellectually capable of understanding children are neurodevelopmentally unprepared to consent to sexual activity, and so willingly remain celibate to protect them from harm. On a day to day basis, refraining from acting sexually with children is not nearly as difficult as the general public would have you believe. Other than our unfortunate attraction, we live quite ordinary lives which is why we blend in well amongst society. Occasionally, we too fall into periods of depression or loneliness which is often greatly exacerbated by the interpersonal struggles that arise as a result of the immense stigma tied to our attraction and, by extension, ourselves. On the outside, people see a person they love struggling with depression, self esteem, substance abuse issues or whatever else that person may be experiencing and not know how to help them. To us, it’s the terrifying reality that everyone we know and love would cast us away for good if they ever knew our secret so the struggle continues, alone. Sometimes, this leads us to seek support we could rely on and stumble upon sites such as virtuous pedophiles and so something positive could come of it. However, the unfortunate reality is that oftentimes it results in the loss of a loved one, or occasionally even, the abuse of a child.

Not only is stigma useless, it’s actually counterproductive. Supporting people with pedophilia does not normalize abusive behaviours; instead, it addresses the insecurities and depression one faces and encourages healthy coping mechanisms. Evidence shows that stigmatization worsens mental health and deters individuals from seeking help. Providing understanding and support fosters an environment where individuals feel safe to seek treatment and develop positive relationships. Effective therapies and supportive relationships emphasize empathy and have proven successful in promoting wellness. Ultimately, support aids in reducing depression, anxiety, self-hatred, existentialism, promoting long-term wellbeing and fostering a compassionate society, rather than normalizing harmful behaviour. Stigma serves no purpose except to promote desperation; and desperate people tend to make reckless decisions.

I don’t believe that the proportion of non-offending paedophiles would be greater if we had a greater social acceptance of paedophilia as involuntary and distinct from child sexual abuse. I feel that the numbers of those who are not going to offend will always be the same, regardless of acceptance.

Greater acceptance would make no difference to me, as I manage my paedophilia quite well already.

I’m not sure if stigma reinforces abuse, other than making it harder to admit one’s attractions and seeking help if need be. Possibly this could mean more people abusing that needn’t have.

I think reducing stigma for minor attraction and separating the attraction from the understandable stigma against hands on offending would be helpful. I did not pick this attraction. Having it is a risk factor to offend, but the intense shame I have felt from bearing a stigmatized condition made it difficult to reach out for help, which made me sadder and more secretive.

There should be no stigma or danger in reaching out for help. I believe that would enhance child safety, not damage it

More questions and answers / Ask a question