Growing Up A Pedophile

It is usually acknowledged that we discover our sexual interests as we approach puberty and hormones start to run amok inside our bodies. This is a process that can start at varying ages for different children, but generally between the ages of ten and fourteen for most kids — sometimes earlier, sometimes later. For girls it’s usually in the 10–12 age range and for boys more in the 12–14 range. It is not unheard of for kids in these age ranges to identify as something other than heterosexual.

The story of Braeden Lange, a 12 year old lacrosse player from the Philadelphia suburbs who came out. Initially it was a struggle that led to talk of suicide. However, through a friendship developed with Andrew Goldstein, former Dartmouth College All American goalie and first openly gay man drafted into a professional sport, as well as the support of his family and the lacrosse community, Braeden came out stronger on the other side and wants to help other kids and adults who may be struggling like he did.

It is natural for kids to figure out what kind of individuals it is they’re attracted to, and in this day and age, not even come out of the closet as much as never go into it to begin with. I realize LGB children still face some level of stigma even in our modern society and may well have to deal with living in the closet for a while, but things have certainly become easier — if not entirely easy — for them in the last few decades.

Openly gay 11-year-old Marcel Neergaard and his father Mike talk about their experiences and efforts to make a difference. Marcel declared himself gay when he was 10 years old, and after experiencing severe bullying in fifth grade at Jefferson Middle School in Oak Ridge, he was home-schooled by his mom.

Still, many conservatives with anti-LGB beliefs will gasp at the idea of affirming a young child’s non-heterosexual identity. However, very few people these days would support telling a young thirteen year old boy, for example, to be wary about identifying as gay because “you never know”, “you’re too young to be sure”, “maybe you’re confused” or “perhaps things will change as you grow up”. It would imply that there’s something wrong with being gay and that he should ‘not give up hope’ of not being homosexual just yet, and that if somehow he says the words himself or identifies with the label it’s going to cement his ‘concern’ and he’s somehow going to curse himself into being definitely gay.

No one would tell a fourteen year old girl that has crushes on boys her age “don’t you think it’s a little early to identify as heterosexual?” That’s not to say there can’t be aspects of one’s sexuality one doesn’t discover until later in life, and perhaps the boy that thought he was gay was in fact bisexual and years later he’ll find a few girls attractive. Perhaps the girl that thought she was straight will one day find herself attracted to another girl.

However, when it comes to young teenagers identifying as minor attracted, many people are quick to express concerns over affirming such an identity at a young age. The reality, though, is that pedophiles go through the same developmental and hormonal processes as anyone else, and most often are very aware of what they’re attracted to by the same age your average heterosexual or homosexual individual is. While I do not believe a formal scientific study has ever been conducted specifically on the age of onset of pedophilia, the data that we have — coming from polls in two different online communities for non-offending pedophiles — show us that between 20% and 30% of pedophiles are aware of their attraction to children before they turn thirteen, and approximately another 40–50% by the age of fifteen:

Poorly worded poll on the Virtuous Pedophiles forum asking for first age of realization/discovery of pedophilic feelings

Similar poll from another non-offending, anti-contact pedophile community

Which means that about 70% are well aware of their sexuality by the age of fifteen. This really shouldn’t be surprising. There’s no reason to believe the development of pedophilic sexual feelings is any different than the development of any other sexuality. People not discovering their attractions to children until much later can easily be attributed to things such as stigma, shame, denial, self-delusion, or a non-exclusive attraction to children and they have simply been able to subconsciously bury those feelings until something makes them come to the realization…

With this in mind, what do you tell a young teenage boy or girl who reaches out for support because they are sexually attracted to (much) younger children? You must be confused? You’re too young to be sure? Maybe it’ll change in the future…? There are some special considerations for pedophilia that are different than for other sexualities, I’ll admit. Not in vain the DSM-5 stipulates an age gap of at least five years between the individual and the subjects of attraction for a formal diagnosis of pedophilia, and a sustained attraction for a period of at least six months. In general, ‘normal’ heterosexual and homosexual people aren’t just attracted to people their exact age. It’s perfectly normal to find people within a certain age range of your own attractive. It’s even normal for kids to feel attraction to adults – picture your typical ‘hot’ celebrity (actor, model, singer). Even though things change quickly between the ages of twelve and fourteen, if you’re fourteen and the youngest person you are attracted to is twelve, then maybe it makes sense to consider that perhaps that doesn’t necessarily make you a pedophile, and I would personally tell them so if I had to. Their attractions may very well continue aging with them as they grow up, and that would be fantastic. Trust me, I wouldn’t wish being a pedophile on my worst enemy. However, if you’re fourteen and you find four year old kids attractive, then odds are pretty high that you are indeed a pedophile. Odds are also pretty high that those attractions won’t simply disappear with time, as evidenced by all those who answered those polls later as adults or in their late teens and recalled being aware of their pedophilia even before their early teens.

It’s of course important to bring all these considerations to the table. To make them think and reflect about their feelings. To consider how much younger than them the kids they’re attracted to are, and whether they have seen any variation in their age of attraction since they first became aware of their feelings. Have they been keeping up with their growth? Sometimes it may be appropriate to tell them to wait and see, but not necessarily as a general rule. Of course if they have any sexual interest in people their own age I will encourage them to try to focus their thoughts on those, if only to make life more bearable and help them realize they have a chance at a relationship with someone that is available to them, but I’d be hard pressed to tell them anything that would sell them false hope, that could make them think that perhaps in a couple years their feelings for younger children will simply evaporate. I wish it were that simple. I wish I could just tell them “don’t worry, you’re young, don’t make this your identity and in a couple of years you’ll be ‘normal’”, but it just doesn’t work that way. Simply not identifying with a label won’t alter their psychosexual makeup.

Even before I was fourteen I already knew I liked other boys, but it was mostly boys my own age or only slightly younger. By the time I was fourteen I started to realize the boys I liked hadn’t quite grown up with me, and the vast majority of those I found attractive were starting to be significantly younger than myself. I kept hoping it was just a phase, that I was ‘just gay’, but by the time I was sixteen I knew beyond the shadow of any doubt. Throughout this whole process there was no one there to ‘affirm’ my identify as a gay boy first, and as a pedophile later, because I never talked to anyone about these feelings until I was almost in my forties. I never even labeled myself a pedophile until that time, but that didn’t make me any less of one and it didn’t change my inherent sexuality in any way.

What identifying with a label — whatever label they choose — can offer these young people is a sense of community, a feeling of not being alone in the world, of not being ‘freaks’. It is a first step towards coming to terms with and accepting something that they will have to learn to live with their entire lives, and they’re just barely starting to realize and deal with. The sooner they start to accept it the sooner they will achieve some semblance of peace.

So, what should we tell young teenagers that come to us saying they’re sexually attracted to prepubescent children? Very simple. We should tell them that they’re worthy of love and belonging, of respect, that they have human dignity — and rights — that they’re not monsters, scum, trash or evil, that they’re not destined to sexually abuse a child when they grow up, or end up in jail for consuming child pornography. We should tell them that they can live a happy and fulfilling life, accepting their attractions as an integral part of themselves, but a part that doesn’t define them, let alone their actions. We should tell them they’re accepted, not judged, not hated for something they had no say in, and that those that don’t accept them, that judge or hate them do so out of ignorance. We should tell them that, if they feel like they need it, they can come out to loved ones — parents, siblings, close friends — and experience unconditional love and full acceptance, even if it’s something that must be done with extreme caution. We should also tell them that it’s possible for them to find an understanding, non-judgmental, caring professional if they feel like they need help coping with that it means to be attracted to children in terms of future life prospects, or if they need help building up self-confidence in their ability to live their lives without offending against a child.In summary, we should tell them that they’re worthy human beings, that they’re not alone and that… it gets better.

NOTE: All the messages displayed in this article were sent via the contact form of the Virtuous Pedophiles website. However, VirPed does not accept members under the age of 18. Thankfully, other anti-contact communities exist where these people can access resources and peer-support in order to help them cope with their feelings of attraction to children and everything they entail, and where they can connect with other pedophiles committed on never acting on their attractions in ways that would bring any harm to children, either directly or indirectly.

Article originally published on Medium on May 21, 2018. As of its removal by Medium on August 21, 2018, it had 1.7K views, 739 reads and 217 claps from 15 fans.


Of Monsters And Mirrors

In my previous post, I mentioned how young LGBT teens these days have quite a few role models to look up to, but how those who discover they’re sexually attracted to children have no such thing. I came across this quote today that basically expresses what I think is what so many of us feel when growing up and coming to terms with our attractions:

«You guys know about vampires? … You know, vampires have no reflection in a mirror? There’s this idea that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. And what I’ve always thought isn’t that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. It’s that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves. And growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn’t see myself reflected at all. I was like “Yo, is something wrong with me? That the whole society seems to think people like me don’t exist?” And part of what inspired me, was this deep desire that before I died, I would make a couple of mirrors. That I would make some mirrors so that kids like me might see themselves reflected back and might not feel so monstrous for it.»

— Junot Diaz

If you are a young person realizing you have an attraction to children, know that you are not alone. Know that you are not a monster. Know that you can lead a meaningful life, without ever harming anyone. I hope that this blog can be a mirror in which you can see yourself reflected.

Article originally published on Medium on October 9, 2015. As of its removal by Medium on August 21, 2018, it had 641 views, 510 reads and 5 claps by 4 fans.

Why I Do This

We’ve really come a long way as a society in acceptance of sexual minorities in the last few decades. Growing up, I had no idea what being gay meant. I remember boys in school made fun of other boys that liked to play with girls and called them fags, but I doubt they knew what it really meant either. In all likelihood, those boys weren’t even gay. These days, there is a lot more awareness about homosexuality and even young kids know what it means. In most environments, we have come to accept that homosexuality is unchosen, unchangeable and says nothing about the personal qualities of an individual. Even in some conservative religious environments sensible people are starting to acknowledge that people don’t choose and can’t change their sexual orientation and that homosexuals deserve as much respect and acceptance as individuals as anyone else, even if they still consider the act of homosexual sex as sinful — and thus believe homosexuals should remain celibate — or openly oppose same-sex marriage.

However, we still have a very long way to go. There are still many sectors in our society that are prejudiced against homosexual people simply because they are different, not to mention societies where homosexuality is still prosecuted and acting out on homosexual attractions is even punished by death, as sad and terrible as it sounds. No one doubts that many young boys and girls still go through a lot of pain and angst when they discover their ‘unconventional’ sexual feelings. They are afraid of how their family and friends would react. The fear of being rejected by the people that are supposed to love you unconditionally can be terrifying.

Suicide rates among LGBT teens are four to six times higher than among the general population of teenagers. The teenage years are already a challenging phase for many, while they struggle to figure out how to transition from childhood into adulthood; if on top of that you add discovering and having to learn to cope with a still very stigmatized sexual orientation, with all that entails, you have a great recipe for a lot of pain and suffering. Most people these days are very sympathetic with the struggles of young homosexual teens, and luckily in a lot of environments they receive the acceptance and support that they need and they have plenty of role models that have led the way in past rougher times to look up to.

That is hardly the case for young boys and girls who discover — typically in horror — that they’re sexually attracted to younger children. To be clinically diagnosed with pedophilia, you have to be at least sixteen years old, and be attracted to children at least five years younger than you. However, many of us knew before that age, even before reaching puberty. The process of discovery is pretty much the same as with any other sexual orientation — including heterosexuality. Before puberty you can already know that you have special feelings towards certain people, without even having the knowledge that those kinds of feelings are sexual in nature, and without fully understanding what it all means until much later, probably well into puberty. Many of us already recognize feelings like those towards much younger children when we aren’t even into our teen years yet. Obviously, a ten year old boy that has a crush on a ten year old girl (or boy) is not necessarily a pedophile. But some pedophiles acknowledge feelings like those for children as young as toddlers at that age. For many others, we don’t realize there’s anything inherently wrong about our attractions until we reach certain age, and the people we are attracted to have not quite grown up with us.

For me particularly it was a two-phase process: I am sexually attracted to boys, so before I realized I was a pedophile I had to come to terms with the fact that I recognized those feelings towards other boys and not girls. This was over thirty years ago — I remember liking other boys as far back as when I was eight years old. Like I said, there wasn’t the awareness or acceptance of homosexuality that we have today, and I didn’t quite understand what it meant, but based on those comments I talked about earlier I quickly internalized that it couldn’t possibly be a good thing, so I realized it was something I couldn’t talk to anyone about. I was raised Catholic, and back then sex — let alone homosexuality — just wasn’t something families talked about at home. I never got any sex ed at school either. I knew nothing about sex and I knew nothing about homosexuality, but kids aren’t stupid and can take hints from society pretty well.

That continued for a number of years. It wasn’t until I was around fourteen years old that I started to realize that the majority of boys I was attracted to were quite younger than me, often as young as seven or eight years old. Watching the movie Lord of the Flies (the 1990 color version) was quite the eye-opener, for obvious reasons. I was still occasionally attracted to some boys my age — those that looked younger than their years; so for some time, probably a year or two after that, I just continued to hope that I was just gay. You know you have it rough when your best case scenario is being homosexual. I also have to say that, at that age, when I finally knew what being gay meant, I had no idea what a pedophile was. It wasn’t until much later that the idea of there being adults interested in having sex with children crept into my consciousness. However, today I can confidently say that when I was fourteen I already knew I was a pedophile; I just didn’t know there was a word for it.

For obvious reasons, pedophiles that are attracted to girls don’t go through this two-phase discovery process. They typically don’t recognize anything inherently special about their attractions until they reach certain age and the girls they are attracted to are suddenly too young for their age. This can happen at different ages, like I said, but it’s not uncommon to hear that this happens right before or around puberty.

I know how it feels like to discover you’re gay, and I know how it feels like to discover you’re a pedophile. I can confidently say though, that this day and age, discovering you have sexual feelings for children is much more terrifying than discovering you are gay.

The level of stigma and hatred directed towards those who are attracted to children, regardless of whether they have ever acted on their attractions, is mind-boggling. With that kind of attitude, how do you think young boys and girls who discover these feelings feel about them? The vast majority internalize the messages they hear about pedophiles in the media and the internet: they are depraved, manipulative monsters who are destined — if they haven’t already — to sexually abuse a child and ruin their life forever; they are less than human, the scum of the earth; they deserve to be isolated from society, if not chemically and physically castrated, or outright shot on the head or used to conduct medical experiments. That makes many pedophiles, often teenagers, develop intense feelings of self-loathing and shame, all for something they never chose and cannot change. Many have constant suicidal feelings; they’d rather die than ever harm anyone — let alone a defenseless child. Too many will actually attempt to commit suicide. In the little time I have been involved online in the Virtuous Pedophiles community, I know of at least four pedophiles of different ages who have attempted suicide — some of them more than once. A lot of people disappear from the community after a short time. Given the stigma and the risk of identifying as a pedophile online, anonymity is very important. Thus, you never know who these people are, and perhaps many of those who have left the community have actually left the world of the living altogether, and we will simply never know.

Some people won’t care about this. If there is a news article about a young gay or trans* boy or girl taking their life because they weren’t accepted by their intolerant parents or they were bullied in school, tears are poured and everyone is in grief — as it should rightfully be. However, if news were to break about a pedophile killing himself, people would loudly cheer and clap. After all, the only good pedophile is the dead pedophile, right?

But I do care. And I know those who will lose their children to suicide because of this will care too — although perhaps they’ll never know why their child took his or her life; it’s often too terrifying to admit even in a suicide letter. And because I care, I want to change things. No, I do not want to make adult-child sex neither socially/morally acceptable nor legal in any way, shape or form. I repeat: I do not want to make sex with children acceptable or legal. But we need to be able to understand that being a pedophile doesn’t make anyone a monster by definition. We need to understand that pedophile and child molester are not the same thing, and that most pedophiles actively choose to refrain from having sex with children because they realize it would be wrong and they don’t want to harm anyone. We need to stop making young boys and girls who discover feelings of sexual attraction to children believe they are irrevocably destined to ruin someone’s life, that they are not a ticking time bomb waiting to explode, that they are decent — or as decent as any other — human beings that deserve to live a happy and fulfilling life, in spite of never being able to form relationships with the kind of people they are attracted to. Lives are at stake here, and all lives matter, including the lives of pedophiles.

This is why I do this. This is why I want my voice to be heard. This is why I am a member of Virtuous Pedophiles, and this is why I’m writing this blog. Because I care.

Originally posted on Medium on 

The Non-Offending Pedophile

The topic of pedophilia is a very touchy one, one that makes a lot of people uncomfortable. We constantly hear on the news about convicted pedophiles, pedophile priests, and a variety of terrifying stories of child sexual abuse. The statistics tell us that up to one in five girls and one in twenty boys will be sexually abused before they turn eighteen — the numbers are quite staggering. Child sexual abuse is definitely a terrible thing, and everyone agrees that we must do everything we can as a society to get rid of this scourge. However, people often disagree as to what the best approach to achieve that goal is.

It is — however — really hard to have a rational discussion about such a complicated and uncomfortable topic. But that is exactly what we need to do as a society: have a rational conversation about it, and not one that is driven by gut feeling, fear and knee-jerk reactions; but instead is based on reason and hard facts. The media has been irresponsibly reporting on such cases of child sexual abuse for decades by interchangeably using the terms pedophile and child molester or child sex offender, creating in the mind of the audience the perception that they are all one and the same. The reality is a little different though.

Let’s start by looking at the definition of pedophilia that you’ll find most commonly in a dictionary:

pedophilia: (n) the condition of being sexually attracted to children

Of course, there is a much broader definition within professional publications such as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) by the American Psychiatry Association (APA), or the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) by the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as a differentiation in the case of the former between pedophilic sexual ‘interest’ and pedophilic disorder, but those will be topics for other posts. There are two aspects that the simpler dictionary definition doesn’t really reflect though. First, pedophilia is defined as sexual attraction to prepubescent children, that is, children that have not yet reached puberty. There are other terms to refer to people who are sexually attracted to either pubescent or postpubescent children, which I will not elaborate on today. The second aspect is that for someone to be considered a pedophile, they have to be either exclusively or predominantly attracted to prepubescent children — so while some attraction to adults may be present, it will generally be much weaker than their attraction to children. There are many more people that can have some level of sexual interest in prepubescent children, finding themselves suddenly attracted to the odd child, but otherwise archive those feelings and never think about them much. Just as your average heterosexual man that finds himself unexpectedly attracted to an attractive man would not generally be considered homosexual, those people would generally not be considered pedophiles.

In summary, a pedophile is characterized for feelings of sexual attraction to prepubescent children (I’ll just say children from here on out). This attraction is usually accompanied by fantasies of having sex with children or children having sex in general (it could be masturbating, experimenting with peers…) but pedophilia does not indicate that a pedophile must act on his attraction with an actual child during the course of his or her life. What pedophilia certainly is not, is the actual act of having sex with a child (sexual abuse or child molestation). Thus, pedophilia and child molestation are not the same thing.

Do pedophiles molest children? Certainly some do. We have plenty of evidence of that.

Do all pedophiles molest children? That question is trickier to respond to. Do we know how many pedophiles are out there? The answer is no. There is very little research done on the topic of pedophilia, mostly because it is a topic with such a negative stigma that most researchers of human sexuality don’t want to associate themselves with it. Those who do study it struggle to get funding and to find pedophiles who are willing to participate in their studies. Some conservative estimates suggest that 1–2% of the entire adult male population are actually pedophiles; other estimates indicate that up to 20% of adult men are capable — to some degree — of being sexually aroused by children. In any case, even with the conservative estimates we are talking about millions upon millions of pedophiles walking among us every day. It seems logical to think that not all of them molest children. Otherwise the statistics of child sexual abuse would be much higher than they are.

Are all child molesters pedophiles? Here we have more information, and contrary to popular belief we can say with certainty that no, not all child molesters are pedophiles. This sounds counter intuitive, I know. But there are actual scientific studies that prove this point. What percentage of child molesters are pedophiles is more up to debate, there being different studies that suggest different numbers, but in the “best case scenario” (or is it the worst case?) a minimum of 60% of child molesters are not actually pedophiles. These are what’s called situational offenders, a well understood and commonly used term in criminology. It means they commit their offense not because they are sexually attracted to their victims — or to children in general — but for a variety of other reasons, which I will not cover in this post.

So, we know that not all pedophiles are molesters, that not all molesters are pedophiles, but that some pedophiles do actually molest. It can sound a little bit confusing, but if you think about things rationally it makes certain sense. Being a pedophile doesn’t automatically make one an evil person that only cares about his own desires and doesn’t care whether he inflicts pain on others in the process of fulfilling them. So those pedophiles who refrain from acting on their attractions because they know their actions could cause harm to children are what we call non-offending pedophiles.

It is non-offending pedophiles that I want to talk about here. I have been thinking of starting a blog to talk about the topics of human sexuality, sexual orientation and identity, pedophilia, mental disorders, shame, stigma, child sexual abuse and other related topics for quite some time. The internet has been ablaze since published an article about a non-offending pedophile called Todd Nickerson titled I’m a pedophile, but not a monster”, and through the comments on that and his follow-up article, I have come to see that a while a lot of people are ready to start having that rational discussion I was talking about earlier, unfortunately there are way too many people who still refuse to acknowledge the difference between pedophile and child molester and make a conscious decision to judge people based on feelings they didn’t choose and can’t change rather than based on their actions — or lack thereof, in this particular case.

Why would you be interested in reading what I have to say about these controversial topics? Who am I? I am a non-offending pedophile. I am sexually attracted to prepubescent boys; I have been since I was a boy myself, and that was a long time ago. I have never touched a child sexually, I am committed never to and very much confident that I never will. I am also a member of a community called Virtuous Pedophiles where pedophiles who are committed to never acting on our attractions are free to finally talk about something they have likely never been able to share with anyone in real life out of fear, and receive support from others who won’t judge them for their feelings and who can relate to their struggles. That is something very powerful, and I am proud to be a member of such a community.