This post was written by Connor Balough
Margo Kaplan is not very popular today. In the Monday edition of the New York Times, the Rutgers-Camden law professor, an NYU and Harvard graduate, takes to the op-ed pages to argue that we’ve got it all wrong when it comes to pedophilia. She writes that pedophiles don’t necessarily turn out to be child molesters and that pedophilia is not a choice, i.e. a pedophile might be born that way. We reached her in her office in Camden to discuss.
You really lit up the comments section of the op-ed page today.
Yes, but I have to be honest. I am getting more emails of support than I ever expected. I’m shocked. I expected to get maybe 95% negative emails, but I’ve gotten so many positive ones. The online comments, though, are pretty uniformly negative, and a lot of people haven’t even read the article.
I know your pain. Who are you getting these positive emails from?
A lot of people I don’t even know. There’s a former prosecutor, a judge, a nurse. Individuals with family members who have pedophilia.
How much of the population has pedophilia?
We’re not entirely sure, but the estimates are around one-percent of the male population, and those in the female population are assumed to be much smaller. As far as the number of people with pedophilia who do sex offend and who do not, there are a lot of assumptions but very little data, because we have very little treatment, very little information.
Why is that?
There is so much stigma. There is very little reason to come forth and identify as a pedophile. There are no large scale studies, no large treatment programs, no big research studies on this. I contacted the National Institutes of Health, and they don’t spend any money on pedophilia.
But you are basically saying, hey, let’s take it easy on pedophiles.
Well, but I am not saying that about sex offenders. I say that they remain responsible for their conduct. We need to treat pedophiles before they offend. People see the word “pedophile” and think “sex offender.” People choose to sex offend children. They do not choose to be pedophiles.
Since you say there are so many misconceptions, why don’t you tell us what a pedophile really is.
A person with an intense and recurrent sexual attraction to prepubescent children, children who have not yet entered any form of puberty. And according to the DSM [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders], it constitutes a mental disorder when you act on it, but not just that. It also constitutes a mental disorder if it causes “marked distress or interpersonal difficulty,” and, as you can imagine, pedophilia will cause this.
In your article, you open by saying that as a pedophile’s numerical age increases into teenage years and then adulthood, the numerical age of those he is attracted to does not. Are most pedophiles really starting that young?
For many individuals, it is really an onset in adolescence, similar to how many sexual attractions happen. Individuals who are heterosexual, you realize you are attracted to the opposite sex when you are a kid. For a pedophile, you get older, but you keep being attracted to little kids, and many people start to realize this during adolescence. So imagine trying to deal with that during adolescence in addition to the other confusing feelings that you’re having.
Read more at http://www.phillymag.com/news/2014/10/06/pedophilia-not-a-crime-rutgers-margo-kaplan/#iPzUtj7dM9JqYoZ7.99