by Tania L. Abramson and Paul R. Abramson
Swedish scientists are hoping to cure pedophilia with a drug that lowers testosterone. Using men who’ve called an anonymous hotline to get help for their pedophilic impulses, the clinical trials have now begun.
Men who are troubled by, and seeking help with, pedophilic intentions should certainly be encouraged to pursue treatment, but such men are hardly a representative sample of pedophiles. The motivation for calling an anonymous treatment hotline is undoubtedly capricious too, including remorse over actively abusing kids. Even if such a drug proved effective with volunteers, there are no guarantees that convicted pedophiles could then be forced to take it.
Pedophilia depends upon maximizing access to children, and relies upon grooming (constant attention, excessive flattery, etc.) to reduce the probability of disclosure. Young victims who have been sexually abused under the guise of affection rarely disclose the abuse for fear of sending the perpetrator to jail.
If we can’t easily detect pedophiles, let alone identify and treat those who sexually abuse children, perhaps the fundamental question then is how can we reduce the opportunities for adult men to sexually abuse kids? If pedophiles are rare but omnipresent, and we can’t scare them into remission with punitive measures, it’s essential that we turn instead to developing stronger and more extensive safeguards than hoping for a magic bullet to solve the problem. Strengthening the likelihood of disclosure, to teachers for example, or school counselors and pediatricians for that matter, will do a better job of protecting kids in the long run, while simultaneously insuring rapid treatment for victims of child sexual abuse. A stronger prosecutorial commitment for apprehending pedophiles is obviously necessary too.
Tania L. Abramson, MFA
Dr. Paul R. Abramson
Professor of Psychology, UCLA