Some paedophiles may have been victims of sexual abuse: Doctor

Some paedophiles may have been victims of sexual abuse: Doctor

The shocking rape of a six-year-old girl at Vibgyor High school here earlier this month has turned the spotlight on paedophiles, individuals who fantasise about, are sexually aroused by or experience sexual urges towards pre-pubertal children (less than 13 years old) at least for a period of six months.

The individual must be at least 16 years old and at least five years older than the juvenile of interest to meet the criteria for paedophilia. Some paedophiles may themselves have been victims of sexual abuse (‘victim-to-abuser cycle’).

Early separation of parents, violence in the family and substance abuse could be some other causes for individuals to turn into paedophiles, says Dr K John Vijay Sagar, associate professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (Nimhans).

Paedophiles often intentionally try to place themselves in a position where they can meet children and have the opportunity to interact with them in an unsupervised way, such as when babysitting, doing volunteer work, doing hobbies or coaching sports.

They usually obtain access to children through means of persuasion, friendship and behaviour designed to gain the trust of the child and the parent, Dr Vijay Sagar explained.

Paedophilia can be characterised as either exclusive or non-exclusive. Exclusive paedophiles are attracted only to children.

They show no interest in sexual partners who are not prepubescent children. So much so that this desire prolongs even when they are not in the presence of children, he added.

On the other hand, non-exclusive paedophiles are attracted to both adults and children. It is common for people who are diagnosed as having paedophilia to also experience another major psychiatric disorder (affective illness in 60-80 per cent, anxiety disorder in 50-60 per cent) and/or a diagnosable personality disorder (70-80 per cent) at some time in their life.

Dr Vijay Sagar further said that approximately ten per cent of paedophiles had a hormonal dysfunction. Most experts, however, regard paedophilia as resulting from psychosocial factors.

Richard von Krafft-Ebing in his first book titled ‘Psychopathia Sexualis’ in 1886 used the term ‘paedophilia erotica’.

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