March 25, 2002


The sad truth about child molesters (Johann Hari, 25th March 2002, New Statesman)
It seems, on this evidence, that Sigmund Freud might have been right after all when he judged paedophilia to be an intractable sexual orientation, entirely unresponsive to treatment. In the mid-20th century, we moved away from this view towards a belief that we could treat paedophiles sufficiently to release them into the community. There were honourable experiments conducted by people like Jan Evans. But judging by the available evidence, these experiments are shown to have failed.

Most paedophiles are, as the child abuse expert Dr W F Glaser of the University of Melbourne argues, "long-term recidivists. The oldest offenders in the clinic where I consult are in their eighties . . . Burglars, car thieves and brawlers all appear to give up in their thirties, but paedophiles just keep on offending." Combine this with the knowledge that sex offences against children have a negligibly low detection rate, and it becomes clear that the stakes, when a paedophile is released, are unusually high.

If we really can't get pedophiles to stop we need to face the prospect that we will have to incarcerate them...forever. You can listen long and hard to all the posturing about pedophile priests and not hear more than a word or two about what is to be done. The scandal is mostly being used to bludgeon the religious without any serious effort on the part of the bludgeoners to come to grips with one of mankind's most evil pathologies. Posted by Orrin Judd at March 25, 2002 7:59 AM
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