A pedophile tells his story

This American Life
April 11, 2014

"This American Life" decided to take on a REALLY hard topic: pedophilia. As a parent of two young kids, just hearing the word triggers a rage in me that I didn't even know I had. This is a hard episode to listen to, but it's really important that you do. Listen to it at work when you are bored at lunch, in your car, wherever. Just please hit "Play."

The definition of pedophilia is "a psychiatric disorder in which an adult or older adolescent experiences a primary or exclusive sexual attraction to prepubescent children, generally age 11 years or younger."

Note how I emphasized "attraction." To be a pedophile, you don't have to act on your urges. Just thinking them is enough. Which makes sense. The thing is, though, this attraction can start manifesting in kids as young as 12 or 13. And they have no way to talk about these urges or how to prevent them from taking control of their lives without being considered a threat. Talk to a shrink? You risk being reported to the authorities. The scientific community is so afraid of the stigma attached to even researching pedophilia that it's barely been studied it at all. Which seems like kind of a bad idea if we want to prevent the victimization of more young children.

So a 19-year-old kid, an admitted pedophile who has never acted on his impulses, started an online support group. His mom is helping him find solutions. He needs you to hear this, for the sake of your own kids.

"This American Life" was expecting lots of hate mail for this episode. So far, they've received none. It's a really good look at a really hard issue. So please listen. Also, directly from Ira, "Though there's nothing graphic in this story at all, victims of child sexual abuse should consider this a trigger warning."