Pedophile—what does it mean and when should it be used?
How does one convey the proper use of a tired and overworked word to those who have the eyes and ears in the state of Texas? Women Against Registry, a national organization of wives, mothers, girlfriends, grand-mothers and other family members of registrants would like to make the media and ultimately the public aware of the effects that this misapplied term has on their families. Our families face many obstacles; Having our homes set on fire, our children beaten, signs placed in our yards, people driving by shouting obscenities, rude gestures, vehicles/property damaged, asked to leave our churches and other organizations, children passed over for educational opportunities, flyers distributed around our neighborhoods, wives lose their jobs when someone learns they are married to a registrant and even murder by self-proclaimed heroes who more accurately are vigilante criminals. The media carries this message to the public who then contact their legislators to protect children from all the “pedophiles”. The uneducated information the media disseminates to the public is driving wedges in society and causing people harm.
What is pedophilia?
Pedophilia is a diagnostic term utilized by the psychiatric community to define a specific type of mental disorder. As such, the term had originally been intended to identify a clinical entity in a way that would both facilitate research and guide treatment. Although in the absence of treatment the condition can predispose illegal behaviors, in and of itself pedophilia is not inevitably associated with criminal misconduct. Nevertheless,nowadays the term has taken on an unintended meaning in society’s collective consciousness—a demonizing pejorative that stigmatizes those manifesting the condition. To many in contemporary society, the term pedophilia connotes a criminal mind-set, rather than a mental disorder.
(From the “AMERICAN JOURNAL OF FORENSIC PSYCHIATRY, VOLUME 32, ISSUE 2, 2011 / 3” PEDOPHILIA: CRIMINAL MIND-SET OR MENTAL DISORDER? A CONCEPTUAL REVIEW by Fred S. Berlin, M.D., Ph.D.)
What does pedophile mean?
A pedophile is a person who has a sustained sexual orientation toward children, generally aged 13 or younger. Not all pedophiles are child molesters (or vice versa). “Child molesters are defined by their acts; pedophiles are defined by their desires,” Blanchard says. “Some pedophiles refrain from sexually approaching any child for their entire lives.” But it’s not clear how common that is. (Ray Blanchard, PhD, adjunct psychiatry professor at the University of Toronto.)
What is a sexual predator?
While the term “sexual predator” is sometimes used to describe anybody who obtains sexual contact via less-than-honest means, the term has a clear legal connotation, as well. Used to refer to both potential sex criminals and those who have a history of committing sexual crimes, the term is sometimes confusing to those outside law enforcement.
Who are the registrants?
According to the NCMEC, as of December 2013 there were 769,402 men, women and children as young as years old on the registry nationally with more are being added at record-breaking rates. The increased growth of registrants is creating the work load of law enforcement to become impossible. The state of Texas makes up 78,869 of the above total registered citizens. The “sexual offenses” across the nation can range from; urinating in public (indecent exposure), sexting, incest, mooning, exposure, false accusations by a soon-to-be ex-wife, angry girlfriend, spiteful students, viewing abusive/ suggestive images of anyone18 years old or younger, playing doctor, prostitution, solicitation, Romeo and Juliet consensual relationships, rape, endangering the welfare of a child and many others. More and more higher courts are declaring some of the laws unconstitutional. Women Against Registry believes when a person has been convicted, paid their debt to society and are living a law-abiding life they should be allowed to move on and become a contributing, tax-paying citizen.
Kimberly DuBina, W.A.R. Director states, “According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics the recidivism (re-offense) rate for a new sexual offense is 5.3% BUT, the conviction rate is 3%.”
Many law enforcement, child abuse task force personnel and even victim’s right advocates are informing the public that 95% of sexual offenses occur within the family, their friends or those close to children which never get reported. Lawmakers have become increasingly fruitful when writing legislation built around a few high profile crimes involving children.
It is clear from this review of recent policies enacted to protect communities from sexual violence that the proliferation of well-intentioned political efforts to curb sexual violence has led to the creation of laws lacking a solid evidence base. Although additional community-based studies are needed, research to date indicates after 15 years, laws have little impact on recidivism rates and the incidence of sexually based crimes. The most significantly noted impact of these laws seems to be the numerous collateral consequences for communities, registered sex offenders (including a potential increased risk for recidivism), and their family members.
Dr. Jill Levenson, in the Collateral Damage – Family of Registered Sex Offender Impact Study said, “In contrast to the guidelines set forth by the Adam Walsh Act, evidence-based sex crime policies which employ empirically validated risk assessment strategies would be more apt to accomplish goals of public safety and successful reintegration.”
W.A.R. has begun “Pushing Back” on laws, restrictions and especially media fear-mongering which is annihilating our families. Vicki Henry, President says, “Each time the media misuses the word pedophile it diminishes a registrant family’s chance of successful reintegration.” She went on to say, “We are concerned about all children and are actively collaborating with other organizations on prevention messages and programs.”
We are at a tipping point where reason must be applied to this run-away train of laws that are demolishing everything in its path.
Contact: Vicki Henry, President
Women Against Registry