My wonderful friend Kimberly has a knack for finding really interesting and sometimes mind boggling things online and very generously sharing them. She posted a link yesterday that has me still dumbfounded - so much so that I felt the need to actually dust off my blog and write something about it.
Apparently in the state of Maryland, there is a group called B4U-ACT - that wants to remove pedophelia from the upcoming new edition of the DSM 5, meaning that it would no longer be classified as a mental illness. The rationale behind this is to remove the stigma of criminal behavior from "law abiding, minor attracted persons" and encourage tolerence.
Tolerence? Of WHAT? Of a sexual attraction to children? Of the presence of sexual predators in areas where children are accessible? Of the behavior itself?
This group states on their website that their goal is to provide mental health services for individuals who are sexually attracted to children. I can understand the necessity for this, and I'm actually not opposed to that. I think that these people need access to mental health services just like anyone else does, even more so than most because the impulses and behaviors they have are potentially harmful to others if they act on them.
The problem I have with this group has more to do with some of their other attitudes. In the words of their conference keynote speaker, Dr Fredrick Berlin of Johns Hopkins University -
B4U-ACT’s own website puts Berlin’s views front and center. “Just as has been the case historically with homosexuality,” he writes, “society is currently addressing the matter of pedophilia with a balance that is far more heavily weighted on the side of criminal justice solutions than on the side of mental health solutions.”
To me this is sickening and so VERY wrong. Homosexuality is not a criminal act, it takes place between 2 consenting adults. Sexual contact in the case of pedophelia DOES NOT. It is the assault of a child or adolescent by an adult, and causes sufficient enough emotional and physical damage to merit its own special classification of PTSD in pre-school aged children. There's also the issue of the level of repeat offense by pedophiles - in a 2001 study conducted by the Center for Sex Offender Management, the recidivism rate for: "Child molesters with female victims ranged between 10 and 29 percent. Child molesters with male victims ranged between 13 and 40 percent. Exhibitionists ranged between 41 and 71 percent."
On top of this is the fact that Dr Berlin has flat out refused to comply with Maryland state reporting laws regarding sex offenders. He actually came under scrutiny from the Maryland State DA for refusing to report sex offendors when he knew that they were molesting children in the 1990's.
So basically, the goal here is to remove stigma from pedophelia, change the name from child molestor to "minor attracted person" and make it OK for them to be around children, as long as they haven't been caught breaking any sex offense laws.
I understand the desire to show compassion, to treat the mentally ill with dignity and humanity, and 99.999% of the time I agree with it, but let's face it here folks: some people are just bad. Some people are not poor victims of circumstance, they're not helpless, they don't need pity or compassion. Just as it is in the animal world there are scavengers and bottom feeders who will prey on the defenseless and weak. Some people have been damaged beyond repair, and are beyond rehabilitation. They are a danger to others around them, and regardless of how terrible the circumstances may have been to make them that way, the point is that they ARE that way, and there's no fixing it. The only option with someone like that is to protect others from them, and to prevent them from inflicting the kind of damage that was done to them on to others.
I know that sounds really harsh, but it's reality. I work with the mentally ill on a daily basis and the vast majority of the clients we treat are harmless, and no more a danger to a child than you or I are. Many of them are actually loving parents who are getting help so that they can be there for their children.
But I've also worked with clients over the years who are a danger, people who would harm a child, who have harmed children in the past. I go out of my way to treat these individuals with the same level of care and dignity that I would treat any other client with, but if one of them tells me that they're actively molesting you can bet your ass I'm going to notify law enforcement. At that point I don't give two farts about "stigma" or criminal vs behavioral treatment, all I care about is that this person has harmed someones baby and they need to be in a cage.
To think that there are mental health professionals who get so wrapped up in the lofty moralistic debate that they can't see the potential threat that people with pedophelic desires pose to others is just astonishing to me.
It makes my brain hurt.