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Charlotte Amalie
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There Are Pedophiles in Our Midst

Oct. 31, 2008 – Pedophilia is generally defined by common usage, psychology and law enforcement. There is a range of definitions, but medically, it is defined as a psychological disorder in which an adult experiences a sexual preference for a prepubescent children or acts on that preference by engaging in sexual behavior with children. Remember that: pedophilia is a sexual preference.
While many on the Christian Right do not accept this premise, most medical and psychological professionals largely agree that we are born with sexual preferences, over which we have little or no control. We may control our behavior with respect to these preferences, but the underlying preferences remain. This means that you are born with a preference for the opposite sex (this constitutes the majority of us), a preference for the same sex (homosexuality) or a preference for children (pedophilia). Many of us confuse homosexuality with pedophilia, and while there are homosexual pedophiles, there are also heterosexual pedophiles. That is why the argument about homosexuals teaching in our schools is usually false. Most homosexuals are not pedophiles, while a small minority may be. While they prefer same sex relationships, they are not at all drawn to sex with children, same sex or otherwise.
Most people with minority sexual preferences may engage in sex outside of their preferred field. They do so for public appearances, because of their own guilt and shame regarding their preferences, or because of religious or social pressures. When asked about their sexual preferences, however, they remain consistent.
Pedophiles, however, are adults who are sexually attracted to children, whether or not the adult acts upon that attraction by sexually abusing a child. In law enforcement, the term "pedophile" is generally used to describe those accused or convicted of child sexual abuse, whether the child is prepubescent or under the legal age of sexual consent.
The causes of pedophilia have not been determined although there are a variety of theories and research is ongoing. Most pedophiles are men, and many cover their sexual preferences so well they play major and active roles in their communities. Presently, there is no known treatment or "cure", although therapies may reduce the incident of such behavior. Some experts would suggest that the attraction between adult and child must represent at least five years difference in ages, since some pedophilias are adolescents themselves. Research in this area is active and ongoing.
Several researchers have reported associations between pedophilia and certain psychological characteristics such as low self-esteem and poor social skills. Until recently, many researchers believed that pedophilia was actually caused by those factors. Since 2002, however, it has been more closely associated with brain structure and function. These recent findings suggest that there are one or more neurological characteristics present at birth that cause or increase the likelihood of being pedophilic and that the psychological characteristics are the results not causes of pedophilia. That is, knowing that one is a pedophile lowers one's self esteem, etc.
Most child molester's are pedophiles, whether they be the child's father, uncle, brother, or the unknown man on the street corner. "Although virtually all child molesters are pedophiles, not all pedophiles are child molesters." Pedophiles are men with a strong sexual preference for children, but people without this preference are also known to sometimes molest children as a second choice, or because their sexual preference is unavailable or too intimidating for them.
The Virgin Islands are not exempt from pedophilia, as much as we would like to believe otherwise. Many of these men have been protected from public awareness by a strict code of respect for title, family or association. There has been a standing agreement that such behavior is not really all right, but exposing the perpetrator would be far worse. The effect this has had on our children – both female and male – has been devastating, contributing to the anger, self-denigration and violence we see later in the lives of these children. Admission by a child that they have been molested must be taken seriously.
While not all children tell the truth, the vast majority does, and failure to believe them merely compounds the problem by re-victimizing the victim. Even if a reported sexual abuse is not true, there is certainly something unhealthy in any situation in which a child needs to accuse another person of such a crime.
We need to recognize that we live with pedophiles around us, and must seek to protect our children from their pathology. Listen to your children.

Editor's note: Iris Kern, Ph.D. is a special advisor to the attorney general and the police commissioner on domestic abuse and sexual assault.

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to visource@gmail.com.

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