Paedophilia is a form of sexual abuse of children. It is an aberration of sexual behaviour in which the preferred sexual objects are children, usually under the age of 13.
Who are paedophiles?
Paedophiles are persons who practice paedophilia. They are present at every social and economic level and are very often respected members of the community. They can be close relatives or friends of the victim. They are the people who seem content to fantasize in the safety of their homes and find a sense of fulfilment in sexual activities with pre-pubescent children (children in the age group of 6-12 years).
Many of these offenders have extensive collections of child pornography or child erotic materials that feeds their fantasy. This may consist of photographs, toys, slides or video tapes. The paedophile collector can either be one who builds and views his collection in a very secretive manner or one who displays such material to others to make a profit.
He may use such collections:
to lower the inhibitions in a victim and introduce him to the possibilities
of sex with an adult.
for his own gratification.
to blackmail his victims into further sexual activity.
What are the characteristics of a paedophile?
A paedophile exhibits certain characteristics common to all such offenders:
These people often have failed marriages due to their sexual interests. The
wife prefers to keep quiet to avoid social stigma and disgrace.
He displays a fascination or unusual interest in children.
He may use inappropriate and exaggerated terms for children such as “pure”,
“God sent” or “blissful”.
His hobbies commonly belong to the child’s world such as toy collecting,
building models of cars and planes and his room may be decorated in a child’s
He is generally single and has few or no friends of his age.
He has systematic and prolonged access to children. Jobs such as that of
school teachers, photographers, school counsellors and sports coaches serves his
Paedophiles are very adept at locating troubled or withdrawn children and
lavish gifts upon the target and take him for activities in which they are left
alone with no parental supervision.
If the target is a troubled child, the paedophile will comfort and
sympathize with him or her and often, over a period of time, the child will
develop feelings for the offender even though he is being actively abused, a
phenomenon called “Stockholm syndrome”.
What is the role of the internet in boosting such sexual acts?
The internet and computer have been the most important exchange medium for child pornography. Cheap, user-friendly encryption software is often deployed by child pornographers to make decoding of the files extremely difficult for clients and especially law enforcement agencies to identify them. Images showing sexual abuse of children can be uploaded and downloaded with relative ease and anonymity.
Thus, the world over, parents, schools and society in general are concerned to ensure a safe environment for their children before the TV screen and the computer.
What efforts are needed to regulate paedophilia?
Strict law enforcement is needed against child abuse, child pornography and
paedophilia. The erring sites need to be identified and removed from the
Agencies like UNESCO have an ethical interest to safeguard freedom of
expression and they are working towards protecting children from the dangers of
the internet without destroying the new communication and information tool.
More research, information, monitoring and sensitizing of the public is
required in the direction of sexual abuse of children.
Parents need to educate their children about this and take care that their
innocent children do not become victims in the hands of paedophilic