Concept of the Month -- July 2006

How "Errors in Thinking" Apply to Pedophiles

I have been asked occasionally whether the "errors in thinking" that give rise to many forms of criminal conduct apply also to sex offenders, especially pedophiles. The answer is that they do. Specifically:

1. The pedophile does not put himself in the place of the youngster in terms of considering possible psychological damage.
2. The pedophile justifies sexual contact with minors when held accountable in many ways, including saying that the youngster "wanted it." Even if this were the case, the perpetrator knows it is illegal and that not only he will pay a price for this behavior, but the youngster will likely have to face interviews by the police, social services, and others. That is, there is an aftermath that causes suffering even if the youngster willingly participated. So there is not an operational concept of "injury" to others.
3. The pedophile insists that the behavior be kept secret. He is exercising control over the youngster to protect himself.
4. The pedophile is shutting off from awareness deterrents, both in terms of potential consequences of what he knows to be a wrongful act, and he is shutting off deterrents of conscience.
5. The pedophile regards his situation as unique and fully acceptable and justifiable after the fact.
6. The pedophile often takes advantage of youngsters who are emotionally troubled and psychologically needy.
7. The pedophile operates in secrecy. He knows right from wrong but what he wants to do is "right" for him at the time.

These are among the thinking errors that perpetrators of other crimes demonstrate by their conduct.

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