nextgenforensic

Examining pedophilic interest as a risk factor for sexual re-offending

By Ian McPhail (@IanVMcPhail on twitter)

One of the central preoccupations of forensic psychology is identifying what psychological and social characteristics may contribute to re-offending.  This concept is straightforward and important.  When someone commits an offence, is caught and convicted, and becomes involved in the criminal justice system, we want to understand what separates those who return to criminal behaviour and those who do not.  When we understand this, people working with individuals who have committed sexual offences can help them limit the influence of these problems in their lives and increase the chance that they will desist from crime.

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Examining the latent structure of pedophilic interest

By Ian McPhail (@IanVMcPhail on twitter)

In the last five years, there has been a series of attempts by forensic and sex scientists to examine and elucidate the latent structure of sexual interests in prepubescent children, or, pedophilic interest. In this blog post, I will discuss what latent structure is and what the recent science has been finding. In two upcoming blog posts, I will examine the ramifications of this recent latent structure research.

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The link between pedophilia and height

Ian McPhail

If I were to ask the question, “what are some markers of early development experiences that might be linked to the development of pedophilic interests?”  I doubt most people would suggest “physical height”.  But to the contrary, pedophilic sex offenders are, on average, 1.7cm shorter than other groups of people (for example, other sex offender groups, non-offenders).  A more recent study by Fazio and colleagues found pedophilic offenders to be 3.09cm shorter than non-pedophilic offenders.

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Disclosing a sexual interest in children to others: The experience of a non-offending pedophile

Ian McPhail

While writing a review paper on non-offending pedophiles, some of the research I reviewed discussed a difficult aspect of having a sexual interest in children: the choice of whether to disclose a sexual interest in children to others or remain hidden.  During interviews with researchers, pedophilic men described that making this choice was a struggle for them, that the decision to disclose or not was fraught with anxiety about the potential interpersonal and other consequences.  Part of the struggle for these men was the fear that in disclosing their interests, others would end the relationship or at the very least, it would impact the relationship in a negative way.  Indeed, if we were to imagine that a friend of ours, or a partner, or a family member disclosed to us they experienced a sexual and emotional attraction to children, I think the majority of us would struggle with this disclosure, even if the struggle was simply knowing how to support the person while maintaining our relationship with them.

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Stigma and non-offending pedophiles

Ian McPhail

People who have pedophilic interests and do not act on these interests present a complex challenge to clinicians.  There is growing evidence that a pedophilic orientation is associated with pre-natal factors, suggesting this orientation may start with events present prior to birth.  On this blog, we were fortunate enough to have the co-founders of Virtuous Pedophiles write a post about the existence of non-offending pedophiles and some of the painful challenges these individuals face due to having a sexual orientation they did not choose.  As part of the shame and fear of disclosing pedophilic interests, some non-offending pedophiles do not make these disclosures, even to mental health professionals.  A consequence of not feeling safe to disclose a pedophilic orientation, these people are left to cope with and manage their sexual attractions on their own.  As a budding mental health professional, I find this state of affairs unacceptable.  There are a number of reasons why I am unsatisfied with this status quo, but one I find pressing and that research is beginning to examine with non-offending pedophiles is stigma.

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The flexibility of pedophilic sexual interests

Ian McPhail

Can someone’s sexual interest in children decrease and their sexual interest in adults increase?  This sounds like a complicated and vital question that professionals in the business of treating sexual offenders should be asking themselves most mornings before they head to work.  Not surprisingly, this is a question that psychologists and psychiatrists have been preoccupied for a long time, with more modern examples emerging in the 1960s and 1970s.  However, more recently, a series of recent articles have dug into this complicated and thorny issue anew.  And perhaps even more interesting, this debate has spilled over into the media, with a recent radio broadcast in Canada featuring two of the main individuals in the recent debate speaking to the issue at hand: can we change pedophilic interests?

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