Training, Consulting,

and Publications on Sexual Abuse, Sex Offenders,

and Victimization

 

RESPONSE TO USA TODAY ARTICLE

 

I was recently quoted in two articles in USA today, following an interview I gave to one of their reporters. I was subsequently trolled by various individuals, some of whom I think completely misunderstood what I was saying and others, who probably understood it but disagreed vehemently. The articles quoted me accurately, and I stand by my comments, but I am writing this to clarify my opinions: 

1) Pedophilia is a paraphilia in which an individual is sexually attracted to prepubescent and/or pubescent children. They may or may not also be attracted to post-pubescent individuals. 

2) There is increasing research evidence that pedophilia is congenital. Frankly, I think it’s common sense that people don’t get to choose to whom they are sexually attracted. Individuals discover as they grow up what age and gender sexually arouses them; they don’t get to pick and choose.

3) I do not agree with professionals who want to “destigmatize” pedophilia. Being congenital does not change the fact that pedophilia is a devastating disorder that is implicated in the sexual abuse of millions of children. 

4) That said, there is no evidence that all individuals sexually attracted to children molest them, although many do, and some individuals who sexually abuse children are not generally attracted to children. They molest for other reasons: anger, power & control, fear of intimacy with adults, revenge on a child’s parent, etc.

5) I do not agree with DSM-V, which has effectively declassified pedophilia as a mental disorder. Only pedophilic disorder is now considered a mental disorder. In addition to an attraction to children, pedophilic disorder requires that the individual has committed a crime by acting on their sexual interest in children or that the person is upset about being a pedophile. Since when does committing a crime make something a mental disorder? In addition, some individuals lack a conscience and are unconcerned about their attraction to children. Does the lack of a conscience turn something from being a mental disorder to not being one? The logic eludes me.

6) The crucial point is that there is a distinction between being attracted to an individual and acting on that attraction. You might be attracted, for instance, to someone who would be an inappropriate sex partner, e.g., your wife’s sister. That does not mean you are going to rape her. Any sexual acting out with a child by an adult is equivalent to rape as a child cannot consent to sexual contact.

7) Anyone who molests a child is 100% responsible for their behavior, whether they are or are not a pedophile.  Whether pedophilia is congenital or not is irrelevant. You can’t choose your attractions, but you can choose whether to act on them or not.

8) To the people who trolled me: If you are so opposed to child molestation, why not do something constructive instead of harassing me. Donate to your local Child Advocacy Center. These centers are all over the country. They are places where children are evaluated after disclosing child sexual abuse. They are generally staffed by supportive but unbiased evaluators who use the most up-to-date interviewing techniques. They are safe places for children to talk about what happened to them and they save children from multiple interviews by law enforcement, child protection, and medical personnel. 
 

 

TESTIMONIAL

 

The other thing, the biggest thing for me was that during the trial the State's expert witness psychologist [Dr. Salter], she was saying things and stuff up there about, you know, patterns of somebody who does this stuff, stuff like this, and I was listening to that, and looking at me, and it was like a perfect copy of my life that she was saying. I couldn't believe it."

INTERVIEW 

 

Dick Golberg’s guest is Dr. Anna Salter, a prominent author of books on criminals and sex offenders, as well as a consultant to the Department of Corrections in Wisconsin.