BBC News 24 November 2015
There has been immense concern in recent years over the scale of child sexual abuse. But even after years of study and investigation there’s still disagreement over what causes paedophiles to be the way they are, writes Richard Sanders.
“People, they think ‘why should we help the paedophile? We should be prosecuting them, throwing them in jail, having them castrated’. But if we offer help to paedophiles we might save children who might have been abused.”
These were the remarkable words of Paul Jones, father of April Jones who was abducted and murdered by a paedophile in October 2012. There was evidence that Mark Bridger had been looking at child pornography online in the hours leading to her abduction.
Now Paul and his wife Coral are campaigning for better understanding of child sex abuse – including offering help to paedophiles to prevent them from offending. For them this is key to protecting children from harm.
Dr James Cantor, of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, Canada, spends much of his time exploring the brains of paedophiles using MRI scans. He has reached a startling and controversial conclusion.
“Paedophilia is a sexual orientation,” he says. “Paedophilia is something that we are essentially born with, does not appear to change over time and it’s as core to our being as any other sexual orientation is.”