You don’t choose your fantasies
No shame, no taboo
In many countries, there are professionals and associations that can help. .
I want to have sex with a child
Do not be fooled by your own desires: no child ever wants sexual relations with a grown-up – not one, not ever. A child might tell you that they want to have sexual relations, or they might be scared to refuse because they want to please you. They might seek to have sexual relations with you because they have experienced something that disturbed or troubled them. Your obligation as an adult or a teenager is to respond that sexual or romantic relationships with children are forbidden because they damage children.
I feel the urge to masturbate while looking at images of children
The exploitation of a child using their image is unacceptable. Do not be fooled by the phony smile of a child who has been manipulated by adults. Masturbating in front of these images makes you an accomplice to the sexual exploitation of their image. There is a very real risk of addiction and isolation.
I would like to not be attracted to children anymore
Even if it feels right now that you can’t imagine a life without being attracted to children, you should be aware that many people have managed to overcome or control their urges with specialist help. An attraction to children is not inevitable. The important thing is not to isolate yourself with your urges or trap yourself into a troubling fantasy, or to believe that you are condemned to a life sentence of purely platonic sexuality.
What is pedophilia and who is a pedophile?
Pedophiles are adolescent boys or girls or adult men or women who feel sexually attracted to prepubescent children (i.e. those who have not yet reached puberty) or children in the early stages of puberty. The age limit is often around 13.
Some pedophiles are attracted only to girls, others only to boys. Some are attracted to both, and some are equally attracted to children and teenagers or adults.
Pedophilia exists everywhere, all around the world and in all environments regardless of wealth, education or religion. Just because nobody talks about it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist!
No one chooses to be a pedophile, and the majority of pedophiles will never abuse a child.
No one is responsible for their fantasies, but everyone is responsible for their actions and their deeds. Also, any sexual act involving a child is forbidden: it is forbidden to tell children that you are in love with them, to make remarks of a suggestive nature to them, to show them a pornographic image or to show them your own sexual organs or ask to see theirs, to watch them undress, caress them, touch their private parts (pubic area, buttocks, chest), to put them on your knees when you have an erection, thereby imposing upon them your own sexual desire.
Why is pedophilia so frightening?
Pedophilia is often wrongly defined as the act of sexually abusing children. In fact, pedophilia is not an act but a sexual attraction.
Pedophiles are neither monsters, nor sex offenders, nor child-murderers. They are often people in pain who need help to overcome their fantasies or to live with their fantasies without actually assaulting a child.
Why does someone become a pedophile?
There is a wide variety of reasons, and it depends on the personal history of each individual. Some pedophiles have experienced violence in their childhood, which may or may not have been of a sexual nature. Others were profoundly disturbed during the time that they were exploring their own sexuality, and others might have grown up in families in which the boundaries of intimacy and sex were not clearly established (we define these as an incestuous environment or family).
Once a pedophile, always a pedophile?
Having desire for children may be a great affliction, but it is not a life sentence. Some people no longer feel attracted to children after receiving therapy or support from a specialist. Others learn to live with such fantasies without feeling that these fantasies are encroaching upon their day-to-day life.
Is that true an adult can fall in love with a child?
A teenager or adult may experience feelings of love for a child but this should never lead to a sexual relationship, because it is impossible to share love and sexual desire with children. This is because children are not yet mature enough to understand this kind of thing, and a sexual relationship is always damaging to a child even when there is tenderness, love and gentleness. When a pubescent person experiences sexual desire towards a much younger prepubescent person, they should always distance themselves and seek help, because it is a sign of a problem.
Is our society pedophile when it eroticizes children?
Our society should neither eroticize children (such as Mini Miss contest, sexy clothes or makeup for little girls …) nor infantilize adults (prepubescent body shapes, absence of body hair as a standard …)
Our society prevents children from being children and adults from being adults when it erases the differences between the generations, and this causes serious confusion that can sometimes lead to the sexual assault of a child.
A little girl dressed as a sexy woman (in tight clothing, miniskirts, short shorts, bikini …) can make us feel deeply uneasy; but if it arouses sexual excitement then you should take notice of this, and you should be aware that she is only playing at pretending to be an adult and that she is still a child. Her clothing or behavior is never an invitation or an expression of sexual intent.
Is there a risk to look at photos or videos of naked children?
Masturbating while looking at photos or watching videos of children gets your brain used to needing an image of a child to achieve arousal. Over time, you will need to see more and more of these images to get yourself excited, and before long you will feel the need to see images of naked children in explicit poses or being sexually assaulted.
Seeing photos or videos of abused children (child pornography, pedosexual content, infantile pornography …) makes you an accomplice to the attacks these children are being subjected to when making such images or movies. When you view these image – even when you don’t pay for them and when you don’t share them – you are involved in an economic system that encourages the production of these images, and therefore aggressive acts towards more children.
It is illegal to produce, distribute or watch images of child pornography in almost all countries, and the punishments for doing so are severe!
There are very many risks associated with this: arrest by the police, addiction to such images, incitement to reproducing these assaults on children within your immediate circle …
If you feel entrapped by these image then you should quickly seek the help of a specialist to help you wean yourself off them. You should always see children in these images for what they are: exploited victims experiencing something that is traumatic and painful, even if it is not immediately obvious. Do not be fooled: their smiles are forced and often elicited using violence and threats: they are merely a facade to hide their discomfort. Do not misread the reactions of a child’s body to sexual stimulation. It is simply not the case that a child is enjoying it just because their body reacts mechanically to stimulation.
Even if it seems insurmountable, you must find the strength and courage to stop watching these images.
Where to find help?
Do you feel attracted to children?
There is no shame in asking for help – on the contrary, it is a sign of bravery!
In many countries, there are institutions and associations that bring together specialists who are trained to help people who are experiencing feelings of sexual attraction towards children to help them better cope with their fantasies and to better control the impulses they might have. .
If no such institution exists in your country, you can still visit a therapist (psychoanalyst, psychiatrist, psychologist …) and tell them about your pedophile fantasies. All you have to do is to make sure that your therapist has obtained a state diploma and is a member of an accredited organization.
Some therapists will refer you to other colleagues who might be better able to help you, others might close their doors without helping you, but don’t ever lose hope! In every country there are qualified therapists who can help people experiencing sexual attraction towards children.
Feel free to talk about the PedoHelp™ project to therapists, we can help them to help you.
What do I do if I think that someone I know well is a pedophile?
You can calmly talk to that person without judging them. Tell them what you saw and felt, and encourage them to go seek help from a competent specialist.
Feel free to talk about the PedoHelp™ project.
On child sexual abuse
What is sexual abuse?
Violence occurs when one person imposes their sexual desires on another person, either because the other person has not given their consent, or because the other is unable to understand (e.g. a child or young adolescent).
Children are unable to consent to sex because they do not yet know what it is, and they don’t have to know about it. They are too young and too immature to know and to experience sexuality.
To make a child have a sexual experience, even when this is done as part of a game, is to transform this child into an object of satisfaction for your own adult or adolescent desire, and that is unacceptable.
Who are the perpetrators?
Perpetrators are men and women, teenagers and adults, who may or may not be attracted to children. Some perpetrators are pedophiles (attracted to children), but the majority are not.
We often imagine abusers to be sadistic, perverse, manipulative and calculating. While these people do exist, they actually very rare. The vast majority of child sexual abusers are sweet and caring people who truly love children. Moreover, they are often very popular with children and their parents, because they inspire confidence.
The majority of child sexual abusers who are attracted to children never dared to speak about their fantasies before they took action.
Who are the victims?
Any child can be a victim of a child sex abuser.
However, children with good psychosocial skills, those who have understood what is and is not allowed – and understand the rules of intimacy – are better able to identify children, teenagers and adults who make them feel uncomfortable, and to dare to say no to them. These children, when confronted with a problematic situation, are also more apt to quickly ask an adult for help.
Lonely children that are left to themselves, and those who lack guidance in their relationships with others (weak psychosocial skills) or who have not understood the rules of intimacy (incestuous families) are more often victims of sexual violence than others.
What are the consequences of sexual abuse on a child?
Sexual assault often has serious consequences, whatever the age of the victim. The effects vary depending on the child, the type of assault, how often the assault occurs, the relationship with the abuser and the therapeutic and legal support following the assault.
Aftereffects often occur, in various ways, at different times of life.
As well as the possibility of physical damage and personal injury arising from a rape, a child may suffer from multiple psychological consequences such as guilt and shame, fear, anxiety, anger, loss of self-confidence, depression, anxiety attacks, chronic pain, social isolation, distrust of all adolescents and/or adults, difficulties in having healthy sexual relationships, impaired memory, concentration, sleep, incontinence or eating disorders …
Assaults can also lead to destructive behavior: suicide attempts, self-mutilation, anorexia/bulimia, prostitution, delinquency, risk-taking behavior, addiction to alcohol, narcotics, drugs, pornography …
Sexual abuse also increases the risk of a victim going on to become a perpetrator.
Silence is not inevitable. Suffering is not inevitable. It is possible to overcome the horror of sexual assault by calling upon the services of a specialist.
On child sex tourism
Which children are victims of sex tourism?
The victims of child prostitution are both girls and boys. They often come from disadvantaged social backgrounds. Sex tourism involving children is a growing phenomenon.
If you witness a case of sex tourism involving a minor in your country or abroad, report it immediately.
What are the risks?
Sex tourists come from all backgrounds. They can be married or single, male or female, rich or poor, young or old. Sex tourists who abuse children can be prosecuted in their country of origin if they have not been prosecuted in the country where the offense was committed. The risks are enormous: a prison sentence of several years and very heavy fines – even many years after the abuse. Convictions may result from the prostitution of minors and also from sexual assault, rape, sexual images of children, and other offenses or attempted offenses against the integrity of children.
Does sex tourism contribute to the economic development of a country?
Tourists who visit a country in order to use people for their sexual pleasure are only encouraging corruption in this country, and the exploitation and debasement of its population.
Is it a tradition to have sex with children in Asia?
In some countries, extreme poverty triggers parents into pushing their children into prostitution. Trafficking networks use children in vulnerable situations to enrich themselves, and other people take advantage of this misery to turn these children into sex slaves.
In some parts of the world it is believed that having sex with a child can cure certain diseases. Actually, the opposite is true: it is in fact sexual relations with children that are most likely to cause infection and transmit diseases such as AIDS. Very often, minors who are involved in prostitution are not aware of the means of prevention and protection from sexually transmitted diseases.
Whatever the country, cultures, traditions or religious beliefs, a child is never asking for sex.
What is an incestuous family?
In an incestuous family, sexual relations take place not only between the two parents, but also between members with close kinship ties (parent and child, children between themselves…). These relationships are often illegal (depending on the country), and always problematic when they involve a child.
What is an incestuous environment?
In an incestuous environment the differences between the generations are blurred, encroaching upon the spaces and roles of each other, and there is not much respect for privacy.
Children who grow up in an incestuous family may have difficulty building their own identity and their own desires, and they may also find it difficult to perceive themselves as being different from those around them. This deficiency can cause them to become aggressors in spite of themselves, by imposing their choices or desires without understanding that others do not share them.
Can a child feel desire and sexual pleasure?
The sexuality of children is very different from the sexuality of adults, and it is vital these these are not confused and intertwined.
As they develop, children discover sex and their body and they may take pleasure in exploring and touching it. This natural process should only occur in an intimate space. A child should never be encouraged, coerced, guided or observed in this act, even with tenderness and sweetness.
Can a child want to have sex?
Children do not yet possess the psychological or physiological capacity to consciously and knowingly have a sexual experience. They can say to a teenager or an adult that they feel like they want to, or they might not dare say no because they want to make them happy, but the child never desires it.
When a teenager or an adult suggests a sexual act to a child, the child does not know what it is, or whether it is good or bad for them. They are too young to know about it and they cannot say yes or no to something they know nothing about. They may be curious, but this never means that they are consenting. Everything has its time: a child will discover sex with someone their own age when they are older.
How do I react when a child is sexually explicit with someone older?
A child may have been troubled by something they have experienced or seen or heard, and they may approach an adolescent or an adult to ask them questions, to touch them or to ask them if they will touch their private parts. This is never a request for sex, it is simply the expression of a need to know or to check what is allowed and what is not allowed. The adolescent or adult must always set limits, must always remember what is forbidden, and must protect children from what will hurt them.
Can one sexuality initiate a child?
The discovery of their own body and the body of others is a pleasant game only if it is shared between children of the same age who have the same level of maturity, and who agree to take part in the game. Adults must intervene if a child imposes this type of game on another child, or in the event of problematic sexual behavior.
While it is important to try to answer children’s curiosity and questions about sexuality with – if necessary – the help of age-appropriate books, this should always be limited to their questions and capacity to understand. It would be highly inappropriate to show them what sexual pleasure is by touching them, by asking them to touch you or by showing them your sexual organ or sexual images: no sexual act with a child can be considered instructive.
What to do when a child sees a pornographic image?
Depending on their age and sexual knowledge, you can explain that pornography is a far cry from the reality of a sexual relationship. Just as in the movies, where actors pretend to kill or pretend to feel emotions, professional actors pretend to have pleasure in pornographic images. Their movements are abrupt, and their poses are designed to allow the camera to show close-ups of certain body parts. Actors and actresses often consume drugs to be more effective, and often undergo plastic surgery to change their bodies. Sometimes their body hair is shaved, and make-up and lighting are used to erase pimples, scars or natural skin colors. Pornography shows sex, not a loving sexual relationship.
Is a girl ready to have sex when she has her first period?
Girls, like boys, need time after the onset of puberty before they are ready to have sex, because sexuality is both physical and psychological.
To impose a marriage or sexual relationship upon teenagers simply because they are biologically capable of reproduction is abusive and harmful to their development and future life.
How to raise children’s awareness of the risk of sexual abuse?
Sex education, when adapted to children’s age and level of development, helps them to develop good psychosocial skills.
Children must be able to name the different parts of the body, including their sexual areas: the penis, vulva, buttocks … with words that they are not afraid to say in front of adults. These words should not be considered dirty, lewd or impertinent.
Children must learn to identify private and intimate areas in order to respect those areas on their own bodies and on those of others.
Children must know that they can confide in adults, and that adults are available to listen to them.
Should we talk to children when someone close has been sexually abused?
It is the role of adults to protect children, but if for any reason children find themselves alone with someone who is likely to assault them, they need to be warned to protect themselves.
In other cases, you must answer the questions of your children bearing in mind what they want to know, and how old they are. A dark family secret is detrimental to the development of a child, but so is a premature revelation. Do not hesitate to seek the help of a therapist to guide and accompany you.
How do I spot a victim of child sexual abuse?
Children often do not have the knowledge, experience, or words to express what they have experienced or suffered, because sexuality is an unknown world to them. So they will express their suffering and unhappiness using their body.
Any sudden change in appearance or behavior should prompt adults to question the cause of the change.
If in doubt, consult a professional who can ask the child questions without influencing their answers.
If you suspect that a child has been abused, you should report it immediately.
What is the best thing to do if a child has been abused?
First of all, remain calm.
Believe the children, help them to express themselves with their own words, without adding anything and without being overwhelmed by your concerns, your imagination and your knowledge of sexuality. Do not ask them to repeat themselves or tell you repeatedly what they experienced.
Quickly accompany them to the relevant departments (Police…) to be supported by trained professionals who will gather their testimony.
Let the legal professionals question the alleged abuser and conduct their investigations.
Be concerned about the welfare of the children and their protection without ever trying to bring about justice yourself.
If you have doubts, or if the children’s words are not clear, you could take them to consult a child therapist.
In any case, tell the children that they were right to talk to you, praise them for their courage and thank them for having trusted you.
You can call your country’s child helpline to file a report.
What if your child or teenager sexually assaulted another child?
If your children have abused another child, it may be that they themselves have experienced, seen or heard things that have disturbed their emotional and sexual development. Offer them the option to talk to a child therapist and accompany them if they agree to it.
It would also be wise to consult – either alone, accompanied by your partner or with the family – a therapist to think about how your family operates and to understand why your children have not learned what is fundamentally prohibited.
Therapists: My patient is a pedophile
What is pedophilia?
Pedophilia is neither a crime nor a legal term. Pedophilia is a paraphilia that is recognized in psychiatric illness nosography. Most pedophiles, both men and women, are abstinent (not perpetrating any physical attack).
As a health care professional, you must first and foremost listen to YOUR PATIENT’S suffering. This is probably why the patient has reached out to you; in addition, the patient trusts your skills and goodwill.
Pedophilia is the attraction or the sexual preference of an adult towards children of prepubescent or early pubescent age.
Pedophilia is a clinical condition defined in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems: ICD and DSM.
In ICD, pedophilia is listed among disorders of sexual preference and defined as “sexual preference for children, whether boys or girls, or of either gender, generally of prepubescent or early pubescent age.”
In DSM, pedophilia is listed as a paraphilia. The subject suffers from sexual urges or sexually arousing fantasies that involve sexual activity with a prepubescent child. This activity must continue for at least six months and the child must not be older than 13 years of age.
Pedophilia is not a uniform disorder; a number of distinct phenomena can be observed. Pedophilia can be exclusive (only seven percent of the cases, A. Barrata 2011), preferential, or opportunistic. It can be directed exclusively towards girls, exclusively towards boys, or towards both. Lastly, the pedophile may be abstinent or active.
Is a pedophile patient also a pervert?
The term “pervert” applies to very different scenarios and concepts in the field of mental health. Its meaning has been distorted by the media and everyday conversation. What, precisely, are we discussing?
In relation to sexual perversion, pedophilia, like all paraphilias, is understood as a perversion; in this particular case, it is understood as a deviation from behavioral norms.
Perversity is seen as a specific urge and of particular ascendency, based on the denial of differences between sexes as well as the denial of “otherness”; it is a rampart against unbearable depressive states. However, perversity is neither a necessary condition nor a component of pedophilia.
“Perversion of the sexual instinct is not to be confounded with perversity in the sexual act… In order to differentiate between disease (perversion) and vice (perversity), one must investigate the whole examen of the individual and the original motive leading to their perverse acts.” (Krafft-Ebing, 1886)
It is worth noting that most pedophile subjects who are satisfied with an auto-erotic activity have a neurosis, which grants them moral superiority and effective awareness over the child’s psyche.
How does one become a pedophile?
There is abundant scientific literature concerning perpetrators of pedophile criminal acts, their anamnesis and their comorbidities; however, there is little data relating to the development of pedophilia on abstinent subjects. We have nevertheless observed that it is not relevant to systematically confuse both disorders.
Furthermore, the construct of any type of sexual preference remains “enigmatic” because of its complexity and the combination of various issues. Besides incontestable individual circumstances, we should not forget societal factors in the eroticization of children (e.g. the issue of hyper-sexualization).
Is my patient ‘dangerous’?
Are there any early warning signs prior to the act taking place?
From a psycho-pathological perspective, any danger is first a vulnerability. A patient who undergoes therapy has fewer risks of acting out. As health care professionals, we must first attend to this vulnerability. When the therapeutic connection is strong, it is not a taboo question to ask your patient about acting out. The patient may then understand that you are here to help, and that there is an alternative to an irreversible act.
Note: contrary to popular opinion, the consumption of pedo-pornographic images is not necessarily the first step towards acting out against a minor. Studies on the influence of violent images in general do not lead to definite and unequivocal conclusions. In some cases, the consumption of such images may help contain urges, while in other instances, it will ease the crystallization of sexual fantasies. Furthermore, not all consumers of pedo-pornography are pedophiles…
Is there a ‘cure’ from pedophilia?
What is my role as a health care professional?
The first key element, regardless of your knowledge of the matter, is to be the recipient of your patient’s story and where relevant their pain and anguish, while making sure that your perceptions (sometimes negative ones) do not interfere with your listening skills and goodwill.
There are specific therapeutic strategies, and it is important to inform your patient about them: analytic or cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy, sexological approaches, drug therapy, etc. Depending on your resources and constraints, you can either recommend this patient to a therapist or specialized institution, or take on the patient yourself.
The therapeutic goal should not be a “cure” in the sense of a change of sexual preference, which would sound like responding to social pressure and would come up against our clinical limitations, but rather caring for the patient’s pain and its causes. Remember that in most cases, your patient will have the same social perceptions of pedophilia as you do!
There are various goals for therapeutic care: management of urges and emotions; care of anxieties and/or depression and weakening of self-esteem; care of addictive behaviors (with or without substance); personality disorders (impulsivity, lack of tolerance for frustration, inhibition, etc.), follow-up with disorders resulting from abuse or negligence (PTSD, etc.), follow-up with sexual disorders, etc. Meeting the patient will be crucial in order to assess their needs and offer adequate assistance.
Are there pharmacological treatments?
It is possible to pair follow-up or psychotherapy meetings and medication with the goal of reducing and controlling fantasies and/or behaviors linked to a deviant sexual activity. An assessment has to be made first, and the patient has to consent to such treatment.
Depending on the country, certain drugs are approved for this indication. A preliminary therapeutic assessment, as well as observation, are required throughout treatment.
Some studies refer to the prescription of serotonergic anti-depressants to relieve compulsive and anxious attitudes that are present among some pedophiles, but the sale of such drugs may not authorized for these purposes.
Other psychotropic treatments may be used to improve some possible comorbidities.
To learn more about the use of pharmacological treatments, please visit the website of your national health agency.
When should I alert a judicial authority?
Laws vary from country to country.
Health professionals may be subject to professional secrecy, depending on various criteria (profession, institution, mission …).
Should you decide to identify an individual, you can contact the police and/or the judicial system of your country.
Where can I find more information?
If you need advice regarding assessments and orientation, and/or answers to your questions when you first meet a patient, you can contact any of our partners, listed by country.
In France, the resource centers for workers intervening with perpetrators of sexual violence (CRIAVS) can provide you with information on the treatment and care available in your area.
The French Federation of CRIAVS has contributed to the development of these answers.
Copy and sign this charter to make a commitment to never abuse any child:
I have sexual attractions that I have not chosen and for which I am not responsible.
I acknowledge my responsibility for my choices, my words and my actions.
I acknowledge that children are people in their own right, dependent on adults and in need of protection, care and consideration.
I acknowledge that children’s sexuality is not the same as adult’s sexuality.
I understand that children have not reached the physical and mental maturity that enables them to consent to a sexual experience.
I understand that sexual abuse has enduring traumatic, painful and disabling consequences on the life of a child, regardless of age.
Therefore, I pledge today and for the rest of my life to never abuse any child.
If I find myself one day with a child and feel desire for him/her, I promise to remove myself from this child or do everything in my power to ensure that he/she does not suffer as a result of my desire, in any way whatsoever.
I promise to never kiss or caress a child while feeling desire for him/her.
I promise to never deliberately expose a child to a situation that could disturb or sexually excite him/her.
I pledge to do everything in my power never to find myself in a situation where, under the influence of a substance or medical condition, my sex urges could negate this commitment.
I pledge to fulfill this commitment now and forever.
Easy to read in English, order our awareness book on Amazon (delivery in your country or available on Kindle):
PEDOHELP™ is an international information project on pedophilia to prevent sexual violence committed against children, led from 2015 to 2019 by the French nonprofit ™, a secular and apolitical charity committed to fight sexual abuse.
The PEDOHELP™ project was developed by an ethics committee, in partnership with entities from several countries: FFCRIAVS, ARTAAS, AIUS, SFSC, SNSC (France), PREVENSI (Spain), PROSTASIA (USA) ; IO-NO! (Switzerland) …
The PEDOHELP™ project has been promoted as “Promising Practices” by the Lanzarote Committee of the Council of Europe.
The more people are informed, the fewer victims there will be.