An Ongoing Sex Drive Directed Toward Children
What Causes Someone To Molest?
Focus on the cause. To do that, we must know the cause. What could possibly cause someone to suddenly molest a child? In general, sexual abusers act because they fit into one of four broad categories. They act because:
Let’s look at each category.
An Ongoing Sex Drive Directed Toward Children:
The Single Greatest Cause Of Sex Acts Against Children
The single greatest cause that drives an adult to sexually interact with a child is a sexual desire for a little girl or boy.
As explained above, older teenagers and adults who fall under this category are called pedophiles. Their problem, a sexual desire directed toward children, is called pedophilia.
Pedophiles molest 88 percent of our children who are molested. They commit 95 percent of the acts. This is a serious disorder.
To be a force to protect the children closest to you, you must understand the difference between a pedophile and a child molester.
Diagnostic criteria for pedophilia
Pedophilia is a well-known disorder. It’s defined by the American Psychiatric Association in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-IV-TR.
You may be familiar with the main features of this disorder, but we want to be sure you understand the importance of some of the details.
To be diagnosed with pedophilia, a person must:
George matches the criteria for being a pedophile. He’s been doing the “behaviors” (molesting children) for 26 years. That’s well over six months. He’s past 16, and he’s been at least five years older than all of his victims – including his first victim, his 10-year-old stepsister Abby.
The diagnosis of females with the disorder pedophilia is exactly the same. However, we are concentrating on male pedophiles because they come into either the mental health or criminal justice system in huge numbers. Of the over 16,000 people in the original sample in the Child Molestation Prevention Study, only 601 were women. Of the 4,000 people who admitted to being a child molester, only 1.4 percent or 55 of them were women. However, female sexual abusers do present a problem. In reports of daycare workers who are abusers, women account for 40 percent.
How early can a person with an ongoing sex drive directed toward children be stopped?
Let’s take a look at George again.
What was the beginning for George? What caused him to molest? What happened before he molested his stepsister?
The year he was 13, he began having recurrent sexually arousing fantasies of very young girls. That’s when he started fantasizing about sexually interacting with his six-year-old stepsister, who stayed over one weekend a month. These sexual urges toward her remained fantasies until he turned 17, when he molested her. George molested Abby repeatedly that year. Abby was ten.
When Abby’s mother complained to her ex-husband, who by then was George’s stepfather, about how the boy seemed to be “mooning over Abby,” her former husband told her she’d have to get used to it: “Our daughter is a pretty little girl. This is only the beginning. Get prepared. You’re going to see many boys ‘mooning’ over Miss Abby before she hits 18.”
George’s mother and stepfather did the best they could. They lived in the old era when families didn’t know what to do to protect their children. They failed Abby.
First of all, Abby’s father refused to consider the fact that a 13-year-old boy “mooning over” his six-year-old daughter might indicate the boy had a developing problem. He saw no possible danger. Abby’s mother went along.
Take another look at the first diagnostic criterion for pedophilia: “Over a period of at least six months, recurrent, intense, sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving sexual activity with a child or children.”
Notice that little word “or.” It’s the cornerstone of The Child Molestation Prevention Plan. What it means is that someone can be diagnosed before they have done the behaviors. George could have been stopped before his developing disorder caused him to molest Abby.
Why six months? Because having a fleeting sex fantasy involving a child doesn’t mean someone has a disorder. These sexual fantasies, these sexual urges, have to go on for at least six months to be considered a sign of pedophilia.
It’s also true that just because someone sexually molests a child doesn’t mean they have a diagnosable disorder. There is a big difference between a child molester and a pedophile.
A child molester is someone who sexually touches a child. What defines a child molester is the fact that a child molester has molested a child. A child molester always has a child victim.
A pedophile is different. At 16, a full year before he molested Abby, George already had the disorder, pedophilia. He met all the diagnostic criteria for being a pedophile. However, he was not yet a child molester. He had never molested a child.
The distinction: Child molesters include four categories of people: much older children, mentally or medically disabled, antisocials, and people with an ongoing sex drive directed toward children. Within that last category, there exist adults, teenagers, and children who are in an early stage. They have thoughts of sexually touching children or younger children, they have urges to sexually touch children or younger children, they have had these thoughts for more than six months, but they have never molested a child. It’s that early stage – the stage before the person with an ongoing sex drive directed toward children becomes a child molester- that allows all of us to act to stop 95% of the sex acts against our children before they happen. Early intervention is possible.
Contrasts: Child Molester vs. Pedophile
|Anyone who sexually touches a child.||Some people with this disorder have sexually touched a child; some are in the early stages and have no victims.|
|The cause is one of the following:
||The cause is an ongoing or chronic sexual interest in children. The person suffers from a disorder called pedophilia.|
|When tested, his results will show that he has no sexual interest in children, if he sexually touched a child because he was:
||When tested, because he or she has recurrent sexual fantasies, sexual urges or has sexually touched a child because of an ongoing sexual drive toward children, he or she will test positive for a sexual interest in children.|
|A curious child responds to family advice about what is sexually appropriate.
A person with a psychoticepisode or organic brainsyndrome, or stroke responds to medicine for the major condition.
A mentally challenged person or an antisocial responds to increased supervision.
|A pedophile has a paraphilia and responds to tests, medicines, and therapies directed at that disorder.|
What Is A Paraphilia?
Paraphilia is a medical term. It refers to a class of disorders recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as sexual disorders. Pedophilia is one of a number of sexual disorders grouped together as paraphilias. Some other examples of paraphilias are fetishism (sexual obsession with objects), sadism (hurting others), masochism (hurting oneself), exhibitionism (flashing), voyeurism (window-peeping), and making obscene phone calls. Paraphilic disorders are sexual, ongoing, and can be diagnosed.
Why is it important to know about paraphilias? Because this tells us that pedophilia is not a mystery that leaves all of us helpless. Pedophilia is well known and, in fact, is one of a group or class of sexual disorders that share similarities: All of them respond positively to variations of the same basic therapy approach, and all of them respond to the same type of medicines. Specialists- physicians and therapists- who are trained to alter sex drive using tests, therapies, and medicines, treat all of them.
The specialists who treat older teenagers and adults who have the disorder pedophilia and who treat younger teenagers and children who are developing an ongoing sex drive directed toward younger children are called sex-specific therapists. Sex-specific therapists should not be confused with sex therapists. Sex therapists treat problems of sexual dysfunction. Sex-specific therapists treat people with paraphilias, such as – fetishism, exhibitionism, voyeurism and pedophilia.
To learn more about Sex-Specific Therapists and to locate one in your area of North America, please click on the Diagnosis & Treatment link. If there are no listings close to you, please contact the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers for additional listings.
Because people with one paraphilia often also have other, related paraphilias, our efforts to reduce the number of acts of child sexual abuse will, in turn, have a high likelihood of also reducing the number of acts of flashing and window-peeping. The Stop Child Molestation Book by Gene Abel, MD. and Nora Harlow gives more details about the sex-specific physicians and therapists who treat patients with paraphilias and about the tests used to help them with the diagnoses. It also gives more details about the medications and therapies used to treat paraphilias.